Food Security in China

13 Feb

China’s food security is being constantly challenged through a number of different channels. Rising demand, urbanization, natural resource depletion, agricultural labour, and increasing environmental susceptibility.  The No 1 Central Document released in January 2014 emphasises the importance of guaranteeing Chinese food security and safety (Reuters, 2014).

One argument is for China to step away from the self-sufficient production relied on in the past, embracing a more relaxed outlook on importing foodstuffs. This move would improve allocation of resources and allow China to make better use of the international market whilst protecting domestic consumers from volatile international grain markets.

Regarding this, a number of transitional options are outilined by Fan (2014) including:

  • Introduction of land policy reforms.
  • Phasing out of agricultural subsides (which encourage environmental inefficiency)
  • Regulation and monitoring of food supply chain; food production, processing and safety standards.
  • Diversification of food imports

As of February 2014 the Chinese State Council announced that for the first time China’s grains output target falls short of domestic consumption rates. Guidelines propose that by 2020, annual grain production will stabilise at around 550 million tonnes, 52 million tonnes short of the 602 million tonnes that were harvested and consumed in China last year. With China housing 160 million undernourished people currently (the 2nd highest number per country in the world), and the likely increased demand for food, this figure is set to rise.

Fan, S., 2014, Towards food security China, Accessed on 11/02/2014 <http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2014-01/21/content_17246857.htm>

Reuters, 2014, Food Security, rural environment top China’s policy agenda in 2014, Accessed on 11/02/2014 <http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/19/us-china-agriculture-idUSBREAoIo4920140119

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