China sets grain production target
to meet domestic demand, even as the amount of farmland continues
to shrink, said the Ministry of Agriculture last week.
China used 104.28 million hectares of arable land to produce 484 million tons of grain last year, 14.55 million tons more than the previous year, according to official statistics. It will have to reserve at least 103.33 million hectares for an increased output by 2010, an expert told the China Daily. "We estimate that the country will need at least 500 million tons of grain in 2010," said Yang Jian, director of the ministry of agriculture's planning department. "We must reserve at least 103.33 million hectares for that output." The agriculture ministry, which unveiled the next five-year plan for rural development last week, stressed the need to boost farm outputs to guarantee the country's food security. Yet it has already predicted that during the next five years, the total grain-producing land area will decrease by 0.18 per cent annually. Arable land has already shrunk by 8 million hectares between 1999 and 2005, the Ministry of Land and Resources said in March. The upcoming five-year plan calls for arable land to be strictly protected, especially in major grain producing areas and state farms, where projects will be put into place to improve seed and soil quality. There will also be a need to improve farming technology to increase yields, and plant more 'super rice' strains, while standardization in agricultural production will be stepped up to improve food quality and safety. For other agricultural products, the ministry said it expects milk output to rise by 7.95 per cent per year, reaching 42 million tons in 2010, compared with 28.65 million tons last year. Oilseeds will increase to 32 million tons, while sugar-producing plants will reach 120 million tons and meat will rise to 84 million tons. Farmers' per capita income will also grow by at least 5 per cent a year to reach CNY4,150 (€405) in 2010.