How does China support itself with such a large population? 11-09-20 03:50 Updated BJT
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By Suvam Pal

The question is from the ask-and-answer platform Quora and it's baffling for anybody who wants to know more about China. It's really fascinating how the country feeds its 1.4 billion people. Since the late 1970s, the Chinese government has consolidated its status as self-reliant in terms of ensuring food grains and livestock for its citizens. Historically, China has been a nation with a rich culture and a long history of farming. It has been a large agricultural producer, consumer as well as a trader. More importantly, the Chinese government has shown tremendous commitment towards agricultural, rural and farmer development, which contributed highly to its self-reliance.

A farmer uses a drone for pesticides spraying in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, August 7, 2020.

A farmer uses a drone for pesticides spraying in Nantong, Jiangsu Province, August 7, 2020.

There is archaeological evidence that Chinese people in the ancient civilization were growing both the principal types of cultivated rice by 5000 BC. Traditionally and predominantly, China produces rice, wheat, potato, sorghum, peanuts, tomato, tea, millet, barley, cotton, oilseed, soybean and corn. Interestingly, China's agricultural output is the largest in the world and it has also got a robust food supply chain and profound logistics network. China is largely self-reliant and it's also the world's largest importer of soybeans and several other food crops.

Like most countries on Earth, China too faced some negative impacts of COVID-19 pandemic on its agriculture and food production. But, China's food security is unlikely to be at risk, despite a potential fall in grain output due to heavy rainfall in the summer of 2020, because it has high grain self-sufficiency and reserves.

On February 25, at a time when China was combatting against the novel coronavirus, Chinese President Xi Jinping came up with instruction for spring planting work. He also highlighted the importance of ensuring grain and food security amid the COVID-19 pandemic and called for a return to two-season from one-season rice cropping in some regions.

Subsequently, a document regulated each provincial governor to ensure 2020 planted area and production, which is comparable to 2019 levels. It urged the farming sector to return to double-crop rice planting, stabilizing and expanding early rice area, and reducing the area left fallow while increasing crop rotation, primarily between grain crops. It also proposed a reduction in the geographic coverage of the "grain-to-feed" subsidy program, started in 2015 to encourage farmers to switch from kernel corn to silage corn.

Meanwhile, China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on March 6 unveiled the 2020 Crop Production Plan, setting a goal for the minimum total planted area of rice, wheat and corn at 93 million hectares, with a goal for rice and wheat area of 53.3 million hectares. Additionally, the plan calls for a targeted 5.33 million hectares of high-quality farmland and 1.33 million hectares of high-efficiency, water-saving irrigated farmland, the introduction of improved grain varieties, and a further increase in the mechanization rate. Intercropping of soybeans and corn was decided to be promoted to maximize land efficiency and productivity.

China's agriculture sector logged robust performance in the first quarter of 2020 despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The country recorded a 3.5 per cent year-on-year increase in the added value of the country's planting industry and had sufficient daily food supplies. China will strive to secure domestic grain production and supply of farm produce to ensure global grain security.

(The views don't necessarily represent those of the

Editor: 张锐
11-09-20 03:50 BJT
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