Sunday, November 16, 2008

Grain production plan announced

On November 13, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced a “National Grain Security Mid- and Long-term Plan” to build a network of grain production areas to guarantee food security. The plan is full of sloganeering and doesn't give specifics. The plan sounds like pretty much what the government is already doing, but it lays out China's general approach to grain policy. It hearkens back to the days of central planning and dredges up the nearly-forgotten but still intact "governors' responsibility system" as the government worries about being able to feed its population. The document stresses that China can't rely on grain imports because its demand is so huge it could outstrip world supplies.

The country will concentrate on building a set of production regions based on good production conditions, high production level and maintaining ecological protection, pay close attention to research to increase local grain production plans and measures.

According to the plan, the country will undertake grain production engineering projects in main grain production areas and western region, large scale commercial grain production bases projects and comprehensive agricultural development projects, at the same time grasp comprehensive production capacity construction in key grain areas in other regions spread basic food grain land construction in the western region, stabilize grain self-sufficiency. Based on stabilization of grain and oil production, our country will adjust agricultural land structure and layout, advance agricultural industrialization structure and regional layout.

The NDRC reaffirms the goal of maintaining 95% self-sufficiency in grain. It says China intends to remain self sufficient in rice and wheat and "basically self sufficient" in corn. Grain production capacity is to be held at 500 million metric tons (mmt) or more through 2010 and increased to at least 540 mmt by 2020. Planted area in grain should be kept at 1.55 billion mu (103 million hectares). Yield should be 325 kg/mu in 2010 and 350 kg/mu by 2020. Central and local grain reserves should be kept at "reasonable levels." Goals for increased interregional trade of grain are also specified with reference to something called "four scattered-ization" (?).

Like all important Chinese plans, this one has 3 slogans:

"Raise one ability" refers to raising grain production capacity while conserving farmland and water. Construction of infrastructure, support for science and technology.

"Utilize two resources" Rationally utilize non-cultivated land and production of nongrain food to increase food supplies. Keys are to utilize pasture and mountainous area, produce livestock the conserve grain, and use grain and oils from trees. "Make use of" international cooperation and the international market, regulated foreign trade in order to control the domestic grain market, balance supply and demand, perfect the import/export system, and stabilize import/export channels.

"Perfect three big systems": (1) Establish the grain market system, including construction of logistics facilities, cultivate and raise grain market competitiveness. (2) Perfect the grain reserve system so the government can control the grain market, stabilize grain prices, and the main means of dealing with emergencies. This involves rationalizing the layout and structure of reserves and establish the management system. (3) perfect the grain processing system to meet diversifying demands for grain, advance grain industry structure and upgrades, raise profitability in the grain industry, promote the means of raising farmers' incomes. Strengthen development of grain and oil processing, develop feed manufacturing and appropriate "deep" (value added) grain processing.

What policy measures will be taken? The provincial governors' responsibility system (introduced in the 1990s to charge governors with responsibility for ensuring supply-demand balance in their provinces) must be fully implemented, and taken into account in provincial-level job evaluation systems. Each province should have a farmland preservation target responsibility system to guarantee that the basic level of farmland will not decrease, make sure land use is not changed and improve land quality. Strengthen pasture and non-cultivated land conservation and development. Increase investments in agricultural research, implement science, and perfect farmer training systems. Keep increasing financial support for grain production, including grain subsidies, minimum price procurement, and grain risk fund system. Establish and improve a system for grain-consuming regions to compensate grain-producing regions. Increase investment in grain production capacity and logistics facilities. Improve grain statistical systems for market control. Strengthen the emergency management system. Address the serious problems of waste and loss. Stress the need for the entire population to be aware of grain security.

The State Council will organize groups to formulate 10 plans for grain production, consumption, marketing, science, etc. Unified thought, and serious attention is required by all levels of government to ensure full implementation.

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