An agricultural machine harvests rice at Tailai Farm in Heilongjiang Province. [Photo by Feng Xian/For chinadaily.com.cn]
Harvest: A nation’s steady supply is a boon for global food security
China’s recent efforts to curb its reliance on food imports and increase funding for agricultural research have helped make the world’s top food importer more resilient to global spikes in grain prices and supply chain problems, a leading international said. food policy expert.
“China has made enormous efforts to develop its food production,” said Bram Gowerts, director general of the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, which is based in El Batan, Mexico.
“China is investing heavily in science and technology for food security.”
Goverts made the remarks earlier this month during a weeklong visit to Beijing, where he sought to renew partnerships with Chinese researchers after disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Goverts said China’s recent efforts to increase crop production and investment in technological breeding techniques, including gene editing, have boosted yields and made the country’s food supply more sustainable.
“The development of diversified supply chains has helped China to respond quickly,” he said.
In late October, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said this year’s grain production in the country is expected to exceed 650 million metric tons for the ninth year in a row and reach a historic high, even though some farmland has been affected by heat waves and floods. rains in summer.
The increased yield will be due in part to larger cultivation areas and the adoption of high-yielding crop varieties, officials said at a news conference in Beijing.
Liu Han, who heads the ministry’s market and information department, said a number of factors have sent global rice prices to a 15-year high, including more extreme weather events, rising protectionism, regional conflicts and a drought-induced export ban from India.
By comparison, China’s domestic rice purchase price in September was only 0.7 percent higher than January, Liu said.
Goverts said China’s stable food supply is a boon to the world. “If there is a lack of food security in China, it will put pressure on supply chains because it’s a big country with a lot of people,” he said.
He described the current state of global food security as “frightening”. “A conflict can destabilize the global availability of wheat, and because of the conflict we had in one place, the world suffered from increased wheat prices,” he said.
Goverts said the current food delivery system is fragile. “We need resilience because if there was regional conflict today, there would be disease tomorrow,” he said. “And climate change can wipe out entire food regions if we don’t prevent it.”
The challenges mean the world needs to revamp its food supply system, with countries producing a greater percentage of their food mix locally, he said.
Governments should also increase smallholder farmers’ access to innovative technologies, better seeds and information, he added.
Gowerts said the outcome of a recent push to commercialize homegrown, genetically modified varieties of corn and soybeans in China was very encouraging and would help reduce pesticide use, adding that GMOs “should be a technology in your toolbox “.
He said China, which struggled to feed its own population in the 1960s, had become an agricultural powerhouse thanks to decades of investment in agriculture. It now boasts highly educated scientists, strong data processing capabilities, molecular breeding know-how and seed production skills.
Goverts said China is a flagship in the global sharing of germplasm resources — genetic resources that are critical to developing higher-yielding and more nutritious varieties of crops or animals. He praised China’s efforts to send agricultural technicians to Africa as part of the broader Belt and Road Initiative to help boost food production in famine-prone regions as a boon to global food security.
“China is really bringing together all the international actors,” he said.
(Web Editor: Zhong Wenxing, Liang Jun)