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The Chinese government is promoting ‘companion planting’ of corn and soyabeans in a bid to reach grain production goals and ensure food security, World Grain reported on 27 January.

“The companion planting of corn and soyabeans will ensure the steady output of corn while increasing soyabean yields,” Sichuan Agricultural University soyabean expert Yang Wenyu said.

“The supply and demand of rice and wheat in China is balanced and steady, while the biggest gap — about 130M tonnes — remains in soyabeans and corn,” he added.

Demonstration bases in Sichuan province and southwest China have shown positive results from the practice, according to the report, and the mechanisation of planting and harvesting has further contributed to the country’s total grain output.

The method should be further promoted, Yang added, as many still believed it did not work well with agricultural mechanisation and refused to apply it.

“Farmers don’t realise that agricultural machinery can operate between rows and worry about the risk of production loss,” he said.

Yang added that China should also enhance scientific research and provide subsidies for the use of effective machinery and the breeding of high-quality soyabean varieties.

“With limited arable land, corn and soyabeans are competing for planting area, so increasing yields of both crops is important,” Yang said.

China had its 18th consecutive bumper harvest year in 2021, with grains hitting a record high of 683M tonnes, a 2% year-on-year rise. The nation’s grain output has exceeded 650M tonnes for seven consecutive years, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

Last year, China produced 19.6M tonnes of soyabeans while importing 100.3M tonnes of the commodity, the General Administration of Customs said.

More than 80% of domestic soyabean consumption relies on imports, according to the report.