How can China improve its food security?
Updated 10:58, 07-Mar-2021

Food that is safe to eat and grown sustainably makes agriculture a key industry focus in China's 14th Five-Year Plan. The COVID-19 disruption to international supply chains has also made food security more important than ever. We answer a few questions on the development of China's agricultural industry. 

Agriculture is an old established industry. How can it be improved?

Agricultural growth comes from putting more land under cultivation and by improving the crop yields across the board. It is also driven by technology that upgrades crop and livestock management.  

But, isn't agricultural land disappearing with the growth of cities?

Yes, agricultural land in urban areas is shrinking but China has drawn a red line for its arable land – a minimum of 120 million hectares.

At the same time, it's crucial to increase yields from factors of production, such as in developing high-yielding crop varieties and better replenishment of soil fertility.

Efficient modern farming is also really about agribusiness that achieves higher production from big-scale farms. Some of this is done through the consolidation of small farms. Another method China has been promoting is farmland trusteeship, which means peasants unable or unwilling to farm their land can entrust it to service organizations which will be responsible for cultivating the land and managing the agricultural production.

Technology is also crucial. How do modern farmers use technology?

The technological upgrading of agricultural production is a key theme of China's 14th Five-Year Plan. China's modern 5G technology means farmers can manage crops and livestock without a large labor force. Shepherds can track their flock using GPS-enabled apps. Satellite sensing tells farmers when and where to water, and how much of it to use. The Internet of Things means a crop harvesting machine uses artificial intelligence to cut the crop at the right height to gather the most grain.

Does agricultural security mean China will isolate itself from the rest of the world?

No, China's bottom line is to make sure it produces at least 95 percent of the grain it consumes every year, a goal it has already achieved.

It does not mean China will try to reduce its imports of agricultural commodities. In October 2019, the country released a white paper on food security, which stresses that it will take advantage of "two markets and two resources," referring to both domestic and international markets.

Foreign food and agriculture exporters will therefore still have an important market in China. There will continue to be many opportunities for foreign companies to share knowledge and skills to improve agricultural production in China.

Scriptwriter: Daryl Guppy

Managing editor: Xu Sicong

Producer: Wei Wei

Supervisor: Mei Yan

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