China to ensure food security despite epidemic

BEIJING: Chinese officials said that the country can hold firm its “rice bowl” despite the novel coronavirus impact, with ample grain reserves and measures to boost production.
The country has recorded a long streak of bumper years, with grain output reaching a record of 663.85 million tonnes last year. With measures to boost grain production “we have the confidence and determination to hold firm our ‘rice bowl,’” Pan Wenbo, an official at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, told a press conference.
The bumper harvests supported the country’s efforts to boost social and economic development as well as fight the novel coronavirus outbreak, Pan said in response to questions that whether some countries’ grain export ban would strain China’s grain supply.
Pan said China has unveiled a series of “unconventional measures” to stabilize grain production, including setting region-specific grain plantation targets, offering subsidies for farmers and raising minimum prices for state procurement of rice, which secured a good start this year and would ensure stable grain production for the whole year.
The country’s grain reserves have run at a high level, with those of rice and wheat being sufficient to meet the country’s consumer market demand for one year, said Qin Yuyun, an official with the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration.
Qin said the administration will continue efforts to ensure abundant supply and stable prices. – Agencies