China to increase soybean production

China plans to increase its domestic production of soybeans, amid a drop in imports of the legume in January.

China will ramp up its production of soybeans and oilseeds, while rice and wheat fields in regions suffering from damaged underground water supplies will be reduced, Chinese Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Han Changfu announced on Wednesday at a national work conference on spring farming.

China imported 7.38 million tonnes of soybeans in January, down 13 percent from the 8.48 million tonnes it imported a year earlier, according to data released by the General Administration of Customs on Thursday. 

Soybean imports last month were up 29 percent from the 5.72 million tonnes in December 2018, the lowest record since 2011, official data showed.

Although Chinese customs do not break down the origin of imports, data from the U.S. Federal Grain Inspections Service (FGIS) showed that China was the top destination for U.S. soybeans in January due to a strong import surge in the second half of the month following a respite in ongoing trade tensions.

About 1.3 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans were exported to China in January, accounting for 30 percent of the total oilseed exports from the U.S., according to FGIS.