China is banking on a grain harvest of 490 billion kilograms this year, six billion more than last year, according to a forecast from the China Information Center of Grain and Oil.
"China's 2006 grain output is likely to sustain upward momentum for the third year in a row," Shang Qiangmin, director of the center, said. He was speaking at the National Conference on Market Analysis of Autumn Grain and Oil in Heilongjiang Province that ended on Monday.
Shang said that natural disasters, particularly a two-month summer drought that badly affected grain production areas, had resulted in a loss of 40 billion kg of grain.
Nevertheless, China could still expect an abundant harvest. China produces grain in summer - a third of annual production - and autumn. Most of North China expects a good harvest this autumn to make up for the damage.
China's grain production recovered in 2004, after a prolonged downward trend. Output reached 469.4 billion kg that year, compared with 430.6 billion kg in 2003.
(Xinhua News Agency September 21, 2006)