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China imported highest amount of grain in history in 2010

Last updated on: March 25, 2011 16:40 IST

China imported highest amount of grain in history in 2010

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China, which had built up a huge network of silos to store foodgrains, imported the largest quantities of grains in its history last year to beef up reserves to avoid a food shortage this year.

China ramped up its grain imports last year, including soybean, which reached more than 60 million tonnes in 2010, Chen Xiwen, the director of the office for the ruling Communist Party of China Central Committee's Leading Group on Rural Work, said.

Of that total, the country imported 54.8 million tonnes of soybean last year, which accounted for 60 per cent of the world's total.

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Photographs: Reuters
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"The import volume (of soybeans) last year was more than any other previous year in the country," Chen was quoted by state-run China Daily as saying.

China also imported 1.57 million tonnes of corn and 1.2 million tonnes of wheat last year, statistics from the Ministry of Agriculture showed.

Chen said there is no chance that China will experience a severe shortage of grain this year because of its ample reserves. He said that means prices will also remain stable.

"Some 200 million tonnes of grain are now in storage, which does not include grain that farmers have not yet placed on the market," he said.

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Photographs: James Kelleher/Reuters
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China has largely been able to feed itself during the past 10 years and domestic output has successfully met 95 per cent of grain needs.

China has built the world's largest network of silos to preserve grains. Chen said China has impressively increased its grain imports - chiefly soybean and corn - in recent years, partly because domestic supply fell short.

"Corn, for instance, experienced a great shortage last year because a severe drought hit Liaoning and Jilin provinces, the country's main corn-producing areas, in 2009 and caused a sharp decrease on output," he said.

"The situation will improve this year because the country had a better corn harvest," he added.

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Earlier this month, Agriculture Minister Han Changfu said China will continue to be largely self-sufficient in grain production and will not rely heavily on foreign trade because the volume is quite limited at present.

"For instance, the world's total trade volume in rice only accounts for 15 per cent of (China's) domestic rice output. It would not be enough to feed us, even if we could purchase all the rice on the global market," he said.

In 2010, the country's grain output was 546 million tonnes, a 2.9 per cent year-on-year increase.

It was the seventh consecutive year that the grain harvest had grown. China plans to boost annual grain output to 550 million tons by 2020 to ensure adequate supply for its growing population.

Total annual grain output will remain at 540 million tonnes during the next five years, Chen said.

 


Photographs: Aly Song/Reuters
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