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China's food security a boon for itself and the world


China now feeds around 20 percent of the world's population with less than 9 percent of the world's arable land.

XinhuaUpdated: October 17, 2019

In his childhood, Zhao Guochun never expected that one day he would need to eat coarse grains to balance his diet because of overnutrition.

Zhao, a 68-year-old from northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, suffered from hunger in his early years. He later lived on a diet of coarse grains, and wheat-flour was a treat to be enjoyed only during the Lunar New Year holiday.

Zhao is just one of hundreds of millions of Chinese people whose fates have been changed by the country's great increases in food production over the past decades.


More high-quality farmland, irrigation facilities, technology support and government policies are among the factors behind bumper harvests over recent years.

Zhang Jinghui, who grew 23 hectares of rice at a Qixing farm in Heilongjiang this year, reaped a harvest despite a summer flood. "With flood control measures, we embraced a harvest with the yield reaching 7.5 tonnes a hectare," he said.

Zhang, who has worked on the farm for over 30 years, has seen the farmland turn into a high-yield field from a low-lying plot prone to flooding, with the annual yield more than doubling in peak harvest years.

Last year, the Qixing farm, with over 80,000 hectares of farmland, reaped 700,000 tonnes of grain, mostly rice, of which 98 percent went to the market.

Farmers in Heilongjiang, China's largest grain-producing region since 2011, now use more large machinery, including self-driving seeders and harvesters and unmanned pesticide-spraying aircraft, to increase efficiency.

Heilongjiang's grain output surged to 75 million tonnes last year from 5 million tonnes in the early years of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

Between 1949 and 2018, China's annual grain output rose by nearly five times from 113 million tonnes to 658 million tonnes, while the per capita output more than doubled from 209 kg to 472 kg, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

China's food supply has reached basic self-sufficiency from widespread shortages decades ago. With a population of 1.4 billion, the country has seen the self-sufficiency rates of its major grains of rice, wheat and corn remain above 95 percent.

In the PRC's early years, many Western countries were skeptical about China's ability to ensure food security, but the Chinese people have managed to firmly hold the "rice bowl" in their own hands, said Li Guoxiang, a researcher with the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

China now feeds around 20 percent of the world's population with less than 9 percent of the world's arable land.

China has long been a positive force in ensuring the world's food security, said Li. "China's eradication of hunger is a huge contribution to global food security," said Li.

China solution

China mainly relies on itself for food supply, but it has actively taken part in global cooperation by offering the world its own solutions and experiences to jointly guarantee food security, said Li.

"A great departure from a grain recipient in the PRC's early years, China has become a main provider of technological aid and other grain solutions for many countries in the Global South," said Li.

In May, the China National Hybrid Rice Research and Development Center opened its African research branch in Madagascar to select hybrid rice varieties based on the island nation's diverse ecological environment, in a bid to find more productive crops for a continent long troubled by insufficient grain output.

Georges Ranaivomanana, a 55-year-old Madagascan farmer, has benefited from planting Chinese hybrid rice in his town of Mahitsy.

"We're no longer suffering from hunger," he told Xinhua, adding that he hoped all his compatriots would use these seeds to raise their living standards, and that his country might even be able to export rice someday.

Last year, China pledged to support Africa in achieving general food security by 2030, work with Africa on agricultural modernization, implement 50 agricultural assistance programs, provide 1 billion yuan (141 million U.S. dollars) emergency humanitarian food assistance to African countries affected by natural disasters, and train young researchers in agri-science and entrepreneurs in agri-business.

China aims to share its experience in agricultural development with Africa and transfer readily applicable technologies to African countries, said Peter Smerdon, spokesperson for the World Food Program Regional Bureau in Nairobi, Kenya.

Int'l cooperation

China will continue to provide assistance to other developing countries to the best of its ability within the framework of South-South cooperation, and promote the sound development of the global food industry, said a white paper titled "Food Security in China," which was released by the State Council Information Office on Monday.

Meanwhile, China will explore new modes of international food cooperation and conduct multifaceted and advanced cooperation with other countries.

The world is still facing severe food security challenges, with over 800 million people suffering from hunger and food trade being disrupted by protectionism and unilateralism, according to the white paper.

"Observing WTO rules, China will do all it can to make the international food supply more secure, stable and rational in order to better safeguard the food security of our world," said the white paper.