China Indicates Policy Shift Away From Bumper Harvests
China has indicated that it is switching away from its policy of achieving ever-bigger harvests and instead will be boosting imports as it focuses on safer, more sustainable food supplies and fixing the country’s environmental problems.
Ever since the country’s industrialization campaign of 1958 under Mao, agricultural output growth has been considered a key political achievement. In its latest grain policy, speedily increasing grain output was paramount – increasing yields at the cost of the country’s resources and environment, according to the Office of Central Work Leading Group. Now, the group which is the country’s top decision maker on rural policy, states that focus must equally be placed on quality, especially quality in grain output, efficiency, environmental protection, and sustainability, including the capping of water use, and the use of fertilizers and pesticides.
China’s huge grain reserves will allow for this transition to occur without food shortages as the country opens up to more international trade.
Chief economist at China’s agriculture ministry, Qian Keming, states that a new self-sufficiency goal of 85% is achievable by 2020 compared to a previous goal of 95%, and that China’s grain production should be capped at 610 million tons – down from the previous 650 million tons which put excessive strain on the country’s resources.