China targets green production and grain security in farm reforms

BEIJING • China's agricultural sector reforms will include promoting "green" production and safeguarding its grain supply, according to the country's rural policy plan for the year, state news agency Xinhua reported yesterday.

China is trying to modernise its sprawling farm sector and boost productivity.

Citing excerpts from the "number one document", the first policy statement of the year released by the central government, Xinhua said China must promote green production, boost innovation and consolidate rural development.

"Supply-side structural reform in the agricultural sector would be a long and challenging process, demanding that the relationship between government and market be well handled and in the interests of all stakeholders," Xinhua said, without elaborating.

"When carrying forward supply-side structural reform for the sector, national grain security must be guaranteed," it said.

Beijing abandoned its corn stockpiling programme last year, leaving farmers to rely on market demand for the first time in almost a decade.

China has built up huge state stockpiles of corn after years of buying from farmers to support their income.

After discarding the policy, it began to sell off its old stock, but there are still more than 200 million tonnes stored in warehouses, according to some estimates, and the supplies are largely of poor quality.

This is the 14th year in a row that China's "number one document" has focused on rural issues, Xinhua said.

On Saturday, China issued its first strategic plan for territory development and preservation, outlining the protection of arable land reserves and islands.

Issued by the State Council, or Cabinet, the plan demands the retention of 1.825 billion mu of arable land by 2030. That is equivalent to about 1.2 million sq km, or the size of South Africa.

China, the world's third-largest nation by size, has a land mass of 9.6 million sq km and nearly 3 million sq km of maritime area, according to Xinhua.

Urban areas must occupy no space greater than 116,700 sq km by 2030, according to the plan.

Also included are calls for enhanced restoration of the ecology on the nation's islands.

According to the plan, infrastructure on islands with development plans must be improved to protect their natural resources.

Under the plan, development of tourism projects on remote islands would be encouraged, and the ocean economy would account for a greater share of the country's growth.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 06, 2017, with the headline 'China targets green production and grain security in farm reforms'. Print Edition | Subscribe