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A new law in China holding central and provincial governments accountable for incorporating food security into their economic and development plans took effect on 1 June, World Grain reported from a Reuters article.

Introduced in a bid to promote “absolute self-sufficiency” in staple grains, the new law provided a legal framework for local governments and the agricultural industry to raise food production, without giving details on how the law would be implemented, the 3 June report said.

Grains comprise wheat, rice, corn, soyabeans and coarse grains.

The law includes protection of farmland from being converted to other uses, protecting germplasm resources and preventing wastage.

As the world’s leading agricultural importer with the second largest population at 1.4bn people, China has made reducing reliance on overseas suppliers a priority in recent years. China produces one-fourth of the world’s grain and feeds one-fifth of the world’s population with less than 10% of the world’s arable land, according to World Grain.

The adoption of the food security law six months after its first reading reflected China’s urgency to resolve issues that had held back production, such as a lack of arable land and water resources, labour shortages and a lack of agricultural technology, the report said.

According to analysts quoted in the Reuters report, the wording of the law was vague and it might not have a significant impact on how China boosted food production.

The Communist Party would lead the implementation of a national food security strategy “that puts China first” by importing moderately and using advances in science and technology to boost production, a provision in the law said.

“It shall adhere to the principle of storing grain in the ground and using technology to improve grain production,” the law said, to ensure “basic self-sufficiency in cereal grains and absolute self-sufficiency in staple grains for food use.”

The law also set out plans for a national grain emergency plan and food security monitoring system.

Issued in February 2022, China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025) called for annual grain production of no less than 650M tonnes and meat production of 89M tonnes. It also said reducing poverty in rural areas, food security and seed development would be its top priorities.

According to forecasts by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS), China is expected to harvest 138M tonnes of wheat in the 2024/25 marketing year and to consume 146.5M tonnes. Corn production was forecast at 296M tonnes with total consumption at 318 M tonnes, while soyabean imports were forecast at 103M tonnes, with production at 19.6M tonnes.