SCIO briefing on agriculture and rural development

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Mr. Han Changfu, minister of agriculture
Mr. Han Jun, director of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group
Mr. Ye Zhenqin, vice minister of agriculture
Mr. Wu Hongyao, deputy director of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group

Hu Kaihong, spokesperson of the State Council Information Office

Sept. 29, 2017

Ye Zhenqin:

It is important to control pollution caused by pig breeding. The Ministry of Agriculture has implemented the policies of the central government and made efforts in the following four aspects order to achieve a balance between production and environmental protection.

The first is introducing bans. Pig breeding is banned in drinking water-protected areas, scenic spots as well as in educational and sci-tech parks.

The second aspect involves setting limits. Limits have been set on the number of pigs bred in areas containing an intensive water network, restricting the huge amount of pigs and low farming capacity in southern China.

The third aspect is relocation. Some pig farms have been relocated to areas with high capacity, such as northeast China, where there is vast land and enough corn to feed the animals.

Finally, there is treatment. Environmental pollution is being controlled through such ways as ecological breeding and waste recycling.

All those efforts aim to handle properly the relationship between agricultural production, stock supply and environmental protection. Up to now, areas with high capacity in northeast China have accommodated a substantial number of pigs transplanted from the water-extensive areas in the south. I think this is a growing trend. Meanwhile, we should avoid the "one-size-fits-all" approach and only impose bans on a scientific basis so as to protect farmers' interests.

Han Changfu:

Please allow me to offer you two figures. The first relates to the number of hogs. There was a slight drop in those in stock, but the general situation remains stable. The total number of hogs in stock and sold is around 1.2 billion a year.

The second figure concerns hogs raised on large-scale farms. About half of the hogs are raised on farms capable of feeding at least 500 animals and even more, making it easy to prevent epidemic diseases and treat the manure in a more efficient manner.

Han Jun:

You have talked about the impact of using corn to make fuel ethanol just now. Lately, 15 government departments of China jointly issued a plan to increase the production capacity of fuel ethanol by another 8 million tons. Currently, only 2.6 to 2.7 million tons of fuel ethanol are produced from grain. With this plan in place, the production capacity will reach 10 million tons. What does it mean? It means every three tons of grain can be processed into one ton of fuel ethanol, and if all the fuel ethanol is to be made from corn, the production capacity of 10 million tons of fuel ethanol will consume 30 million tons of corn, or 30 billion kilograms.

One of the major considerations behind this plan is that our corn has had good harvests for several years in a row, which has accumulated into the largest stock of corn in the world, but the corn in the granary must be channeled due to its short storage period. So now, multiple channels have been utilized to reduce the excess stockpiles of policy-supported grain. According to the calculation and measurement of relevant national authorities based on the current grain stock, increasing the production capacity of fuel ethanol now will not have a big impact on the food supply and demand in the short term.

The de-stocking of corn will help the market return to its basic balance of supply and demand gradually within three to five years. Also, we are not just using grain to produce fuel ethanol now. Actually, if you take a look at the plan by the 15 government departments, you will notice that we will adopt many other ways to develop fuel ethanol apart from corn, for example, raw materials like the crop straws.

Based on China's national conditions, one thing has been made very clear in the policies is that it is not permitted to appropriate agricultural land or grain to develop fuel ethanol. China is a country with a large population density, so our primary guideline is to make sure that everyone has food to eat. You asked if China will import corn from abroad to develop fuel ethanol. This is a question many people have asked before. Actually, I have already answered this question just now. The leading reason why we are developing fuel ethanol and expanding its production capacity now is to de-stock the corn. So I think, from our national conditions, it is not practical to import corn from abroad to develop the industry of fuel ethanol.

That's all I would like to say for now. Thank you.

People's Daily Online:

This year's No. 1 Central Document put forward the need to keep advancing agricultural supply-side structural reform. Please introduce in more detail the progress made so far. Thank you.

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