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China's Food Security Issue is "Strategic": Agriculture Minister
   2016-03-07 20:32:51    CRIENGLISH.com      Web Editor: Xie Cheng

Chinese Agriculture Minister Han Changyu speaks at a news briefing on the sidelines of the 4th session of the 12th National People's Congress in Beijing on March 7, 2016. [Photo: Xinhua]

Chinese Agriculture Minister Han Changfu has highlighted the issue of safeguarding food security as "strategic".

He made the remarks at a news briefing on the sidelines of the ongoing session of the National People's Congress in Beijing.

CRI's Xie Cheng reports.

 

Han Changfu said that food security is always a major issue in China, a country with a population of 1.3 billion people.

He pledged that authorities will keep the "zero-tolerance" attitude towards food security issues and will spare no efforts to solve problems no matter how minor they are.

"In a word, we will keep maintaining a tough stance on both production and the supervision procedures, in a bid to ensure that people consume quality-assured food. We should not only eat well but also safe."

To that end, he put forward several measures on the issue including a tough crackdown on illegal food additives as well as substandard pesticide residues.

In addition, some of the most hazardous pesticides will be purchased under a real name system starting from this year.

The country's demand for food will still remain high in the long run as the population further increases with the ending of the one-child policy, as urbanization is progressing and as the country's consumption structure is changing.

China's grain output reached over 620 million tons in 2015. The figure has increased for 12 consecutive years.

However, about one-fifth of the country's grain output last year was actually imported grains, amounting to around 120 million tons.

Han explained that the large amount of grain imports resulted from structural demand and price competition.

"Grain from foreign countries is indeed cheaper than ours, much cheaper. The scale of our agriculture is small and the cost is high. So we don't have any advantage in grain prices. For that reason, we've imported a large amount of grain."

He added that China will not seek a consecutive increase in grain output during the next 5 years, but authorities will consolidate and improve grain output capacity.

The minister also says that concrete methods will be taken to improve China's soil quality, as intensive farming in certain Southern regions has left the soil more vulnerable to pests and diseases.

"First, we will control the input to the soil. Second, we will treat contaminated soil. The Agriculture Ministry, Ministry of Finance and Hunan Provincial Government are taking collective measures to treat heavy metal-polluted soil. Third, farms should let the crops lie fallow and plant in rotation to reduce the pressure on the soil."

Addressing the issue of Sino-Russia agricultural cooperation, Han said China encourages more enterprises to invest in Russia's Far East region.

The cooperation could be deepened by enlarging bilateral trade as well as enhancing research on agricultural science and technology.

"The two sides could launch joint scientific research, promote more exchanges on achievements and technology, as well as train more professionals from the other side. We expect more cooperation as long as it's beneficial for bilateral agricultural development and helpful to both peoples."

Responding to queries about Sino-U.S. farm produce trade, Han said the world's two biggest economies also have sound cooperation with mutual benefits in this area.

Last year about 25 percent of soybeans made in the U.S. were exported to the Chinese market, most of them genetically modified.

He notes that safety checks have been conducted by the two sides.

For CRI, I'm Xie Cheng.

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