Full Text: Food Security in China

White Paper
The State Council Information Office of the People's Republic of China on Monday published a white paper titled "Food Security in China."

China SCIOUpdated: October 14, 2019

II. Food Security in China

Based on its own national conditions and food availability, China has embarked on a road to establishing food security in its own way by implementing the concepts of innovative, coordinated, green, open, and inclusive development, the requirements of high-quality development, and a national food security strategy for a new era.

1. Steadily increasing grain production capacity

– Never crossing the red line for the protection of cultivated land. The Chinese government has implemented an overall plan for land use throughout the country. It strictly controls the occupation of cultivated land, especially high-quality land. It is improving the mechanism for linking the increase and deposit of construction land, and implementing a policy of balancing the occupation and replenishment of arable land, thus drawing a red line for its 120 million hectares of cultivated land. We have implemented a complete and special protection system for permanent basic farmland, and designated more than 103 million hectares of permanent basic farmland. At present, the country has 134.88 million hectares of cultivated land, an increase of more than 4.8 million hectares over 1996. There are more than 117 million hectares sown with grain, an increase of about 4.5 million hectares over 1996. The foundations of grain production have been strengthened.

– Improving the quality of arable land and protecting the environment. China has implemented an overall plan for the development of high-standard farmland, promoted the protection of quantity, quality and ecology of cultivated land, and upgraded medium- and low-yield fields. It has built high-standard farmland with concentrated contiguous land, guaranteed harvests in drought or flood, stable and high yield, and a sound ecology. Since 2011, we have created more than 42.6 million hectares of high-standard farmland, improved the quality of cultivated land by 1 to 2 grades in related zones, increased grain production by about 1,500 kg per hectare, and increased grain production capacity. We have carried out soil testing and formula fertilization, popularized the practice of returning straw to the field, green manure planting, the application of organic fertilizer, soil improvement and other supporting technologies, and steadily improved the quality of cultivated land. We have also implemented cultivated land rehabilitation planning and carried out a pilot system of fallow rotation of cultivated land. We will continue to control the application of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, gradually eliminate non-point source pollution, and protect the environment.

– Establishing functional areas for grain production and protected areas for the production of important agricultural products. In accordance with the planning of the main functional areas and the configuration of superior agricultural products, China has established functional areas for grain production and protected areas for important agricultural products on the basis of permanent basic farmland. We have designated 60 million hectares of functional areas for grain production, such as rice, wheat and corn, and nearly 15 million hectares of protected areas for the production of important agricultural products such as soybeans and rapeseed. We have strengthened the superior industrial belt of rice, corn and soybeans in Northeast China, and formed a dominant area for the large-scale production of wheat, special corn and high-protein soybeans on the North China Plain. We are building a core area for the production of double-cropping rice and high-quality special wheat in the Yangtze River Economic Belt, and we are expanding the scale and improving the quality of high-quality wheat, corn and potatoes in Northwest China. In Southwest China we are focusing on the cultivation of rice, wheat, corn and potatoes, and increasing the yield of high-quality double-cropping rice and potatoes in Southeast and South China. We will continue to optimize the regional configuration and the combination of production factors, promote agricultural restructuring, enhance the quality and efficiency of agricultural products and market competitiveness, and ensure the effective supply of important agricultural products, especially grain.

– Improving the efficiency of water resource utilization. The Chinese government has planned and built a number of major water conservancy projects for water saving and water supply. We have developed a full range of water-saving irrigation technologies and products that are reliable and complementary to each other. We have vigorously popularized water-saving irrigation technologies such as pipe irrigation, sprinkler irrigation and micro-irrigation, and promoted the integration of water and fertilizer and other agronomy water-saving technologies. We will further speed up the installation of support facilities and modern and efficient water-saving reconstruction in irrigation districts, standardize and improve the quality of small-scale irrigation facilities, and realize the scientific and efficient utilization of water resources in agricultural production.

2. Cultivating and arousing the enthusiasm of grain planting

– Guaranteeing farming incomes. Grain production makes an essential contribution to feeding the people; it also provides employment to farmers. China has a huge agricultural population, and it will be a gradual process to reduce the agricultural population through urbanization, during the course of which the employment and income of farmers must be guaranteed. In order to develop the rural economy and society in an all-round way, China has abolished the animal husbandry tax, pig slaughtering tax, tax on agricultural and forestry specialties and other taxes, especially the agricultural tax, which had existed in China for 2,600 years and was abolished in 2006. All these efforts have fundamentally reduced the burden on farmers.

We will gradually adjust and improve the grain price formation mechanism and agricultural support and protection policies, and improve farmers' ability to resist natural and market risks through the implementation of land fertility protection subsidies for cultivated land and subsidies for the purchase of agricultural machinery and equipment. We will guarantee the basic income of farmers, cultivate their enthusiasm for growing grain, and ensure the sustainable development of agriculture.

– Improving the mode of production and operation. China has consolidated the basic management system in rural areas, adhered to a two-tier management system based on household contract management and combined with unification and division, and aroused the enthusiasm of hundreds of millions of farmers in grain production. We have invested a great effort in cultivating new-type agricultural business entities and socialized service organizations, promoted moderate-scale operations, and guided small-scale farmers onto the track of modern agriculture, gradually forming a three-dimensional compound agricultural management system based on family management, with cooperation as the link, and social services as the support. At present there are nearly 600,000 family farms, 2.17 million farmers' cooperatives, and 370,000 social service organizations in China. The problems of "who farms the land" and "how to farm the land" have been effectively solved, and the efficiency of agricultural production has significantly improved.

3. Innovating and improving the food market system

– Building a pattern of multiple market players. China is furthering reform of state-owned grain enterprises, encouraging the development of a mixed ownership economy, promoting cross-regional integration of state-owned grain enterprises, and creating backbone grain enterprise groups. We will transform and upgrade the grain industry, cultivate large transnational grain groups, support the development of small and medium-sized grain enterprises, and foster a market environment for fair competition. We have actively guided multiple players into the market, and the proportion of market-based procurement has been increasing. A network of diversified grain purchasers has gradually taken shape.

– Improving the grain trading system. China has built a standardized and unified national electronic grain trading platform, forming a national grain trading system with the platform as the center and provincial (autonomous regional, municipal) grain trading platforms as the support. The functions of macro-control and grain circulation have continuously improved. There are more than 500 grain commodity and logistics markets across the country. Grain futures trading cover major grain varieties such as wheat, corn, rice, and soybeans, and the scale is expanding.

– Steadily improving services in the grain market. The government has actively guided various localities to develop a variety of grain retail methods, and improved the supply network of "safe grain and oil" in urban and rural areas. Grain e-commerce and new forms of retail business are in good shape. We are building platforms for cooperation in grain production and marketing, and encouraging production and marketing areas to strengthen strategic cooperation at government level. In 2018, we organized 3,935 grain fairs of all kinds, with a transaction volume of nearly 136.27 million tons and a value of 231.9 billion yuan. In 2018 and 2019, China held China Grain Trade Conferences with an intended purchase and sale of more than 60 million tons, pushing grain production and marketing cooperation to a new level.

4. Improving macroeconomic regulation

– Paying close attention to state planning as guidance. China has formulated a series of plans, including the Outline of the Thirteenth Five-year Plan for National Economic and Social Development of the People's Republic of China, Outline of the Medium- and Long-term Plan for National Food Security (2008-2020), National Plan for an Increase of Production Capacity for 50 Billion Kg of Food (2009-2020), Outline of China's Food and Nutrition Development (2014-2020), National Agriculture Sustainable Development Plan (2015-2030), National Land Planning Outline (2016-2030), National Rural Vitalization Strategic Plan (2018-2022), and Outline of the 13th Five-year Development Plan for the Food Industry. Through these plans, China defines its goals and measures at different levels, and guides agricultural modernization, food nutrition, and the food industry, with the goal of safeguarding national food security in every respect.

– Furthering reform of the grain collection and storage system and the price formation mechanism. In order to encourage farmers to grow grain, increase their employment prospects and incomes, and protect them from low grain prices and problems in selling their output, the government has, over specified periods, on specific grain varieties in specific regions, and in accordance with specific prices, carried out procurement policies including minimum purchase price procurement and temporary state collection and storage. The purchase price was determined by the government according to the production cost and the market situation, and the grain purchased was sold at the market price. As the market changes and develops, and as the grain supply increases, the government has made different policies for different grain varieties, actively and steadily promoted reform of the grain collection and storage system and the price formation mechanism. Since 2014, we have canceled the national temporary collection and storage policy of grain and oil varieties such as soybeans, rapeseed and corn, and carried out market-based procurement in an all-round way. Since 2016, we have gradually improved the minimum purchase price policy for rice and wheat, further reduced the proportion of policy procurement, and realized market-based procurement.

– Giving full play to the important role of grain reserves. The government has a rational process for determining the functions of central and local reserves: the central grain reserves are mainly used to maintain basic needs, respond to disasters and stabilize expectations, which is the "ballast stone" of national food security. Local grain reserves are mainly used in the regional market to meet emergencies, stabilize grain prices and guarantee supply, which is the first line of defense of national food security.

5. Developing the grain industry economy

– Speeding up the transformation and upgrading of the grain industry. China upholds the principle of "grain planting to the forefront and produce to follow"1and "agriculture to the forefront and industry to follow"2, giving full play to the role of processing enterprises as the engine, extending the grain industry chain, upgrading the value chain, and building a supply chain. We have an overall strategy to build four major carriers to raise national food security to a higher level: demonstration cities and counties, industrial parks, backbone enterprises, and the Quality Food Project, so as to raise national food security to a higher level.

– Transforming grain processing into refined and deep processing. China will increase the effective supply of special rice, special flour, special oil, functional starch sugar and protein, and promote dietary diversity among the people. We will continue to respond to the trend of rapid growth in feed demand, promote feed processing and transformation, facilitate the development of livestock and poultry breeding, and meet the nutritional needs of residents for meat, eggs and milk.

– Implementing the Quality Food Project. China has established professional post-production grain service centers to provide cleaning, drying, storage, processing and marketing services for farmers. We have established and improved a grain quality and safety inspection and monitoring system composed of 6 national-level, 32 provincial-level, 305 municipal-level and 960 county-level grain quality inspection institutions, basically realizing the full coverage of the monitoring network. We have also formulated and issued a series of standards for grain and oil to upgrade the quality of grain and oil products and increase the supply of green grain and oil.

6. Establishing a comprehensive food science and technology innovation system

– Strengthening scientific and technological support for grain production. China has promoted research into improved varieties of corn, soybeans, rice and wheat, and made concerted efforts to cultivate and popularize the best varieties. Highly efficient technology is in place for cultivation of super rice, dwarf male-sterile wheat, and hybrid corn, and tens of thousands of new combinations of high yield and high quality crop varieties have been successfully cultivated after five or six phases of major upgrading. These have been popularized and applied over large areas, covering almost all major food crops. The per unit yield of super hybrid rice cultivated by Chinese scientist Yuan Longping has reached nearly 18.1 tons per hectare, setting a new world best. We will speed up the breeding of high-quality special rice, strong gluten and weak gluten wheat, and green and high-quality varieties such as high starch, high protein and high oil corn, and transform grain production from high yield to both high yield and high quality.

– Applying agricultural science and technology. In 2018, the contribution of scientific and technological progress to agriculture reached 58.3 percent, an increase of 42.8 percentage points from 15.5 percent in 1996. Scientific fertilization, water-saving irrigation, and green prevention and control have been popularized over large areas. That year pesticide and chemical fertilizer utilization rates for rice, wheat and corn reached 38.8 percent and 37.8 percent, and the loss rate from diseases, pests and weeds has fallen significantly. Since 2004, China has concentrated efforts to increase crop yield through science and technology, building a total of 1,276 research fields, core areas, demonstration areas and rollout areas, with a cumulative increase of 130 million tons of grain; the per unit yield in the project areas is as much as 2.3 times the national average. The popularization and application of agricultural science and technology has played a positive role in increasing grain output.

– Upgrading the science and technology of grain storage and transportation. China has overcome a series of key technological problems in grain storage and preservation, improving pest and mildew control, loss reduction, and ensuring freshness and quality, and systematically addressed the technical problems of container transportation in bringing bulk grain from North China to the South. China continues to expand the scale of advanced storage facilities, and in 2018 the storage capacity of mechanical ventilation reached 750 million tons. Storage capacity where grains can be monitored reached 660 million tons, and storage capacity featuring circulation fumigation was 280 million tons. Scientific research findings in the fields of safe and green grain storage, quality and safety, nutrition and health, processing and transformation, modern logistics, and "intelligent grain" have been widely applied.

7. Strengthening management and operations in accordance with the law

– Improving laws and regulations on food security. To accelerate food security legislation, China has promulgated and revised the following laws and regulations:

· Agricultural Law

· Land Administration Law

· Soil Pollution Prevention and Control Law

· Law on Soil and Water Conservation

· Rural Land Contracting Law

· Law on the Popularization of Agricultural Technology

· Law on Promotion of Agricultural Mechanization

· Seed Law

· Law on Quality and Safety of Agricultural Products

· Law on the Entry and Exit Animal and Plant Quarantine

· Law on Farmers' Specialized Cooperatives

· Regulations on the Protection of Basic Farmland

· Regulations on Land Reclamation

· Regulations on Pesticide Administration

· Regulations on Plant Quarantine

· Regulations on the Administration of Grain Circulation.

– Implementing the responsibility system of provincial governors for food security. In ensuring national food security, the central government should take overall responsibility, and the provincial governments bear the primary responsibility. At the end of 2014, the State Council issued the "Directives on Establishing and Improving the System of Provincial Governors' Responsibility for Food Security", defining the power and responsibilities of provincial governments in safeguarding national food security in terms of production, circulation and consumption. In 2015, the General Office of the State Council issued the "Measures for the Assessment of Provincial Governors' Responsibility for Food Security", established an assessment mechanism and formed a working group composed of relevant state departments, which was responsible for carrying out the assessment, thus further consolidating the responsibility of local governments in maintaining national food security. All local governments have increased their awareness of food security issues, and the level of food security has continuously improved.

– Promoting reform in simplifying administration and delegating power, combining decentralization and management, and optimizing services. The goals are to strengthen market consciousness, reinforce thinking on the rule of law, foster an awareness of the need to manage and administer grain in accordance with the law, and strengthen supervision by such measures as random selection of targets for assessment and random selection of assessors, and timely provide information on grain-related affairs to the general public. We will improve the inspection methods of grain inventory and the quality and safety supervision system, and build a responsibility system and code of conduct for the safe storage of grain and oil, so as to ensure that grain stocks are accurate in quantity, good in quality, and safe in storage. We will continue to establish a new regulatory mechanism that mainly monitors the credibility of all players in the food industry to maintain the normal order of grain circulation.

This means that grain planting should be the source, and produce should be found on the dining table, which requires us to properly deal with the relationship between planting and marketing.

This requires us to integrate the primary and secondary industries and realize intensive processing of agricultural products.

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