Maintaining food security again top priority for China

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily/Xinhua, January 20, 2014
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China's top policy priorities for 2014 will be improving the rural environment and maintaining food security, according to a key policy document issued yesterday.

The "No. 1 document," issued every January by the Party's Central Committee and the State Council, has focused on rural matters every year since 2004.

This year's document also focuses on the development of "modern agriculture" and lays out improvements in the way the countryside is governed.

"Rural reform and development are confronted with a more complicated environment and an increasing number of difficulties and challenges, as the country is going through a period of transformation," the document says.

China's rapid marches toward industrialization, urbanization and information-based development are imposing pressing requirements on the development of modern agriculture, it says.

China has acknowledged that industrial contamination of water and soil, together with the overuse of pesticides and fertiliser, has caused severe environmental problems in the countryside.

The fight against rural pollution is part of China's efforts to ensure it has enough farmland, water and rural labour to feed a growing urban population without having to turn to overseas markets.

Water shortages

The policy document says China will seek to resolve environmental constraints such as water shortages.

Around 3.33 million hectares of farmland is now too polluted to grow crops, the government said at the end of last year.

Rejuvenating contaminated land will help China ensure that at least 120 million hectares of land is reserved for farming, a policy known as the "red line."

Improving food security is top of the reform list for 2014 and the next few years.

"Taking good control of its own bowl is a fundamental principle the government must stick to over a long period of time," the document says.

China should spare no efforts in promoting domestic grain production, strictly observing the red line for its arable land and constantly raising the country's agricultural production capacity, it says.

Minimum line

China has been striving to maintain food self-sufficiency, or rely mainly on domestic grain supply. The government has set a minimum line of 1.8 billion mu (120 million hectares) of arable land to ensure food security.

China's arable land totaled 2.03 billion mu at the end of 2012, slightly higher than the minimum line, according to the results from a survey released in December.

However, the actual available arable land was just slightly above the line after deducting land for forest and pasture restoration or polluted land.

While relying mainly on domestic grain production, the country will make good use of the international markets for agricultural products as a complement to domestic supply, the document says.

Large and medium-sized commercial banks should ensure a presence in counties and extend their networks to townships, the document says. Banks should also reinforce their capability of providing services to rural areas.

China will improve the mechanisms for coordinating urban and rural development by improving the rural living environment, providing equal basic public services in urban and rural areas and speeding up reform of its household registration system to help rural migrant population become urban residents.

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