The Chinese government is pushing for increased production of edible oils and soyabeans in a bid to boost grain self-sufficiency, World Grain reported state media as saying.

As part of the drive, the government would be encouraging more land to be used for production as the new planting season gets underway, according to the state media report which cited an annual rural policy document and the nation’s top agricultural official.

Speaking at a teleconference on bolstering preparations for the new planting season, Tang Renjian, director of the Central Rural Work Leading Group Office, urged local authorities to strengthen grain field management and shore up planting areas of major oil crops in the run-up to the annual springtime planting season, which starts between February and May from south to north, China Daily reported.

Tang, who is also Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, emphasised that soyabean production was part of China’s increased effort to reduce its reliance on imported edible oil crops. He said the interventions were aimed at raising food productivity and securing a bumper harvest of crops, including wheat, soyabean and rapeseed.

According to forecasts by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Foreign Agricultural Service, China would import 96.5M tonnes of soyabeans in the 2022/23 marketing year, an increase from 91.5M tonnes estimated for the previous year. Total domestic consumption was expected to reach 115.3M tonnes in 2022/23, up from 110.7M the previous year.

In its annual rural policy blueprint, known as the “No 1 central document,” issued on 13 February, China’s State Council said it would boost grain production, state news agency Xinhua reported.

As the first policy statement released by China’s central authorities each year, the document was seen as an indicator of policy priorities, World Grain wrote on 14 February.

The document called for increased efforts to stabilise production and ensure supply of grain and important agricultural products, a boost to agricultural infrastructure construction, and strengthened support for agricultural science, technology and equipment.

According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, the nation of 1.4bn people harvested 686.6M tonnes of grain in 2022.

Tang said local authorities should explore planting methods such as intercropping with corn to bolster soyabean production and help farmers solve problems relating to farming equipment and techniques to improve production.

China increased its soyabean planted area to 10.26M ha last year – the largest area since 1958 – and pushed the crop’s output to 20.28M tonnes in 2022, the first time soyabean output on the mainland had exceeded 20M tonnes, according to the agriculture ministry figures.