Flex­i­ble grain im­ports needed to bol­ster na­tion’s food se­cu­rity

More sus­tained ef­forts nec­es­sary to main­tain growth in do­mes­tic pro­duc­tion of sta­ples

China Daily (Canada) - - BUSINESS - By ZHONGNANand ZHU WEN­QIAN

China should con­sider flex­i­ble grain im­ports from in­ter­na­tional mar­kets and take steps to en­sure sus­tained growth in do­mes­tic out­put of sta­ple grains, for longterm food se­cu­rity, govern­ment of­fi­cials and for­eign ex­porters said on Thurs­day.

The first pol­icy doc­u­ment of 2014 or the “No.1 Cen­tral Doc­u­ment” is­sued by the cen­tral govern­ment for the 11th con­sec­u­tive year fo­cus­ing on ru­ral is­sues and agri­cul­tural de­vel­op­ment has iden­ti­fied food se­cu­rity as its top pri­or­ity. It stressed that ad­e­quate grain im­ports would help en­sure grain se­cu­rity.

Cheng Guo­qiang, sec­re­tary gen­eral of the aca­demic com­mit­tee at the De­vel­op­ment and Re­search Cen­ter of the State Coun­cil, said grain im­ports should be based on fac­tors like quan­tity, the di­verse na­ture of for­eign grains and also on flex­i­ble im­port strate­gies.

“The big­gest change in China’s new strat­egy to en­sure grain se­cu­rity is that of ad­e­quate im­ports. It is an im­por­tant mea­sure that en­sures suf­fi­cient grain sup­plies from the world mar­ket,” Cheng said at an in­dus­try fo­rum on Thurs­day.

In­deed, pro­fi­ciently us­ing both for­eign and do­mes­tic mar­ket re­sources, ad­e­quately in­creas­ing grain im­port quo­tas when prices fall in in­ter­na­tional mar­kets and en­cour­ag­ing ca­pa­ble com­pa­nies to de­velop agri­cul­tural busi­ness in for­eign coun­tries have all been adopted by the cen­tral govern­ment to en­sure grain se­cu­rity this year.

Fang Yan, deputy di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the depart­ment of ru­ral econ­omy at theNa­tional De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion, said the fun­da­men­tal guide­lines for achiev­ing food se­cu­rity in China have been clearly out­lined so as to sta­bi­lize and in­crease do­mes­tic grain pro­duc­tion, while mak­ing full use of in­ter­na­tional re­sources.

China’s aver­age meat con­sump­tion per capita has in­creased steadily over the past nine years. Meat con­sump­tion will keep grow­ing with China’s on­go­ing ur­ban­iza­tion process boosted by people’s ris­ing in­comes.

To gain enough grain and farm prod­ucts from the over­seas mar­kets, soy­bean and corn trade be­tween the China and the US has ex­panded sub­stan­tially in re­cent years, and played a crit­i­cal role in meet­ing do­mes­tic con­sump­tion needs and in pro­mot­ing in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment.

“With more scaled and stan­dard­ized pro­duc­tion, growth in pop­u­la­tion and per capita in­come, and im­prov­ing diet, we see great po­ten­tial for con­tin­ued ex­pan­sion of grains and oilseeds trade and fur­ther co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and the US,” said Scott Sin­de­lar, min­is­ter-coun­selor of agri­cul­tural af­fairs at the US em­bassy in Bei­jing.

Bryan Lohmar, China coun­try di­rec­tor of the US Grain Coun­cil, sug­gested that the

The big­gest change in China’s new strat­egy to en­sure grain se­cu­rity is that of ad­e­quate im­ports. It is an im­por­tant mea­sure that en­sures suf­fi­cient grain sup­plies from the world mar­ket.” CHENG GUO­QIANG SEC­RE­TARY GEN­ERAL OF THE ACA­DEMIC COM­MIT­TEE, DE­VEL­OP­MENT AND RE­SEARCH CEN­TER, STATE COUN­CIL

Chi­nese govern­ment should ac­cel­er­ate the pace of ap­provals for agri­cul­tural bio-tech­nolo­gies and also al­low im­ports of ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied grains. Each coun­try has a dif­fer­ent ap­proval pro­ce­dure for bio-tech­nolo­gies, while im­port ofGM­grains is yet to be ap­proved in China, whereas it has got the green light in sev­eral other na­tions.

Since China is one of the big­gest soy­bean buy­ers glob­ally, Lohmar said many farm­ers from the US, Brazil and Canada are plan­ning to use new soy­bean seeds af­ter the tech­nol­ogy gets ap­proved in China.

“The de­lay in ap­provals has in­flu­enced the choice of soy­bean seeds and their out­put,” Lohmar said. “Some farm­ers in­vested in other crops in­stead, such as corn, as China started to im­port corn in re­cent years. How­ever, they are still fac­ing prob­lems

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