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Grain official refutes empty granary rumor
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Zeng Liying, deputy director of the State Administration of Grain (SAG), denied rumors Thursday that the official figure of grain reserves was inflated.

Zeng told Xinhua that there were indeed some empty granaries, because the combined storage capacity of the country's granaries was bigger than its grain output.

The granaries have undergone massive expansion in the late 1990s, when China witnessed bumper harvests for several years in a row, she said.

China's grain output reached 500 billion kilograms in 2007, 70 billion kilograms more than that of 2003. The country was able to store 512.3 billion kilograms of grain in the peak production year of 1998.

Zeng also described the grain reserve total as a fluid figure which increases during the buying season and decreases when grain is sold.

"When the harvest season approaches, some granaries would make room for newly reaped crops. You would see some vacant granaries then," she said.

Zeng said granaries might be empty in another case, that is, they were too worn out to store grain.

"The case we need to worry about is that reserves exist only on books but not found in granaries," she said.

According to her, the administration has a rigid statistic system that requires granaries to report their reserve every 10 days. Regular and random site checks were also carried out to ensure the reserve figures were reliable.

"The current reserve figure is true and reliable. There is no reason to believe otherwise from the information we have now," said Zeng.

She said the country was able to maintain a stable market supply of grains and keep prices level because of the abundant reserve.

Official figures showed that the country's grain reserves stood at 150 million to 200 million tons.

The country's current ratio of grain reserves to consumption is much higher than the internationally recognized safe level of 17 to 18 percent.

(Xinhua News Agency May 9, 2008)

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