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Country is able to meet grain needs
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The country is able to meet 95 percent of the domestic demand for grain by expanding output and reserves, a senior official with the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said on Tuesday.


Fang Yan, deputy director of the NDRC's department of rural economy, said during a press conference on edible oil in Guangzhou that domestic grain supplies are sufficient for now, but will fall short of demand in the long term.


He did not elaborate on when that might be.


As the rural population moves to urban areas, fodder grain and oil-bearing crops such as soybeans are in increasingly short supply, Fang said.


To ensure an adequate supply and improve the quality of farm produce, the country will focus on large-scale production and move away from production by scattered, small farms by 2010.


"China will try to increase the output of wheat and rice per unit area and expand the fields for corn planting," he said.


"To maintain the supply of edible oil, the country will develop the colza-growing areas along the Yangtze River and stabilize soybean production in the northeast."


Large production bases will be built to raise the production capacity of staple agricultural products, such as grain, oil, sugar, meat and milk, while grain growers and pig raisers will get financial support from the government, Fang said.


"Reserves are necessary for a big country like China," he said.


He said the country will expand its stockpile of soybeans and edible oil, which will help curb price rises.


The country has been more than 95 percent self-sufficient in grain for the past decade, and its grain security has been guaranteed, with output increasing over the past few years and national reserves up 150 million tons last year, Agriculture Vice-Minister Yin Chengjie said earlier this year.


However, at the beginning of the year, the Study Times, a newspaper affiliated to the Party School of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, said the country faced the possibility of a 4.8 million ton grain shortage in 2010. That would represent almost 9 percent of the country's grain consumption.


The domestic supply of grain would then be insufficient for the next 15 years, making the country increasingly reliant on imports and putting upward pressure on grain prices, the newspaper said.


In another development, faced with mounting concerns over rising food prices, agricultural authorities will set up a price warning and monitoring system for agricultural products this month. The Agriculture Ministry said the move is meant to enhance market transparency and provide better information on production.


(Xinhua News Agency November 22, 2007)


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