Chinese Ministry urges probe on irregular harvesting of unripe green Wheat


BEIJING: The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has instructed local authorities to launch investigations into the harvesting of unripe green wheat for non-consumption purposes such as animal feed-an act deemed as undermining the summer grain harvest and undercutting the nation’s food safety-and to punish those who destroy wheat production, according to a notice released on Monday.

Videos have circulated on social media recently showing green wheat fields being destroyed by forklifts. Some explained in the videos that the wheat was cleared by real estate developers for construction purposes, or harvested ahead of schedule and sold at a higher price to breeding enterprises as wheat silage.

On April 27, the government of Yuanshi county in Hebei province said investigators found that a real estate developer arranged for machinery to enter a wheat field without clear agreement with the local authority and farmers, destroying wheat covering 0.08 hectares.

The company was asked to hold those responsible to account while farmers would be compensated for the grain loss, it said.

In early April, 4.67 hectares of wheat in Hebei’s Zhaoxian county was also destroyed.

An official with the ministry said in the notice that farmers will harvest ripe wheat in about 20 days. “Developers should start working on wheat fields that were expropriated for construction purposes after the ripened wheat is harvested,” the official said.

In another video, a voice assumed to be a buyer is heard saying that the early harvested green wheat was sold to breeding enterprises for 22,500 yuan ($3,300) a hectare.

However, some breeders said it’s unreasonable for breeding enterprises to use unripe green wheat as silage.

Yan Shengmao, an experienced cow breeder at China Shengmu Organic Milk, told China Agriculture Film and Television Center that it is rare to use wheat silage in the cow breeding industry because the cost is higher and the nutrition value is less than corn silage.

It’s possible that some enterprises lack stocks of corn silage due to high corn prices last year, so they had to purchase small amounts of wheat silage at a higher price as a supplement, he said.

He added that breeding enterprises would not normally bulk purchase wheat silage.

A breeding company head in Henan province told Shangyou News, a news portal based in Chongqing, that the company had bought unripe wheat as silage for emergency use because he didn’t prepare enough forage due to severe floods that battered the province in July last year.

They were short of fodder storage and had to wait until August to buy corn silage, he said.

A wheat grower in Henan told Shangyou News he could earn 22,500 yuan by selling a hectare of unripe wheat to breeding bases in early May, but can only earn 18,000 yuan a hectare from selling ripe wheat to the local government a month later.

In addition, he can save farming effort and have additional income through working on construction sites if he harvests earlier.

Wheat production is important for the country’s summer harvest and annual grain output. Affected by rare autumn floods in five provinces last year, the seeding of winter wheat encountered unprecedented challenges.

After measures and subsidies taken by both central and local agricultural authorities to reverse the situation, the production of summer grain is actually better than expected, and spring sowing has progressed smoothly, vice-minister Deng Xiaogang said last week.

Local authorities’ lowest purchasing price of wheat has increased by 40 yuan per metric ton to stabilize farmers’ expectations, he added.

–The Daily Mail- China Daily news exchange item