Potato upgraded as new staple crop
China is boosting potato cultivation to transform the crop into the country’s fourth staple food after rice, wheat and corn, Yu Xinrong, viceminister of agriculture, said at a seminar on Tuesday.
It is time for potatoes to become a staple food, given China’s rapid urbanization, as they can diversify the dinner table, saidWanBaorui, director ofChina’s StateFoodandNutrition Consultant Committee.
Potatoes have been grown in China for about 400 years and now cover 5 million hectares, according to the Ministry of Agriculture. The area devoted to potatoes will expand to 10 million hectares to better safeguard the country’s grain supply, according to the ministry.
The country will see 50 billion kilograms of new food demand by 2020. China has a shortage of farmland and while it is hard to improve the yield of wheat and rice, it is easier to improve the yield of potatoes, according to the ministry.
The country has set a “red line” minimum of 120 million hectares of cultivated land, but pressure on arable land is still great, largely due to rapid urbanization.
Hong Kong’s chief executive and chief secretary urged opposition lawmakers not to deprive the city’s 5 million eligible voters of the right to universal suffrage in the 2017 chief executive election, as the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government launched its second public consultation to refine election procedures.
Following a blueprint set out by the National People’s Congress Standing Committee in August, the consultation paper released on Wednesday looks for feedback on remaining options to refine the nomination process and ballot counting.
Topics include fine-tuning composition of the nominating committee, requirements for prospective candidates to be considered by the 1,200 nominators, methods of nomination and the threshold for victory in the election.
Options include first-pastthe-post and two-round voting if no candidate wins more than 50 percent of the votes. The paper also seeks a solution in case only one person wins majority support from the nominating committee.
The Hong Kong government will bring the finalized proposal to the Legislative Council before the end of June. The package must be endorsed by two-thirds of local lawmakers.
But the 5 million eligible voters in Hong Kong might be deprived of the right to choose their leaders, as the 27 lawmakers in the opposition camp appear keen to block anything that conforms to the decision of the country’s top legislature.
Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor urged the opposition lawmakers not to disappoint the public, who still strongly hope to cast ballots in 2017.
“I urge all LegCo members to think twice and not to destroy completely the limited ‘political space’ remaining before the second-round public consultation has yet to commence,” Lam told the legislature on Wednesday afternoon.
If the reform package was vetoed by the Legislative Council, Lam cautioned, the next city chief would again be chosen by 1,200 electors in 2017. As a result, universal suffrage of the chief executive would notbecomereality before 2022.
The consultation paper suggests that a person only needs to be recommended by as few as 100 nominating committee members to get onto the nominators’ ballot. Lam assured that process would also serve as an open and competitive battle for the top job.
Hong Kong’s chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, cautioned opposition lawmakers and appealed for rational discussions from the public under a spirit of compromise.