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China ag minister says winter wheat condition could be worst in history -Breaking

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© Reuters. FILEPHOTO: This worker was seen beside a machine carrying newly harvested paddy grains into a warehouse in Yangzhou (Jiangsu province), China on October 25, 2019. REUTERS/Stringer

Hallie Gu, Shivani S

BEIJING, (Reuters) – China’s winter wheat crop may be in its worst condition in recent history, the minister of agriculture said Saturday. This raises concerns over grain supply in China, the largest wheat buyer in the world.

Tang Renjian (Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs) spoke to journalists on the sidelines at the country’s annual Parliament meeting. He stated that last year’s rare and severe rainfall had prevented the planting of approximately one-third the usual wheat acres.

Tang stated that a survey of the winter wheat crop before winter began revealed that there was a drop in the first- and second grade crops by over 20 percent.

He said, “Not too long ago, we went to the ground to conduct a survey. Many farming specialists and technicians informed us that this year’s crop conditions could be among the worst ever recorded.” This year, grain production is facing huge challenges.

These comments by the minister underscore concern about China’s supply of grain at the same moment as wars between Russia and Ukraine which collectively account for around 29% global wheat exports has caused disruptions that have led to wheat prices soaring to new 14-year highs.

Tang believes China will be able to harvest a record amount of summer grains thanks to its strong policies and technical support, as well as the improved crop conditions.

China’s Ukraine crisis fueled wheat prices to record heights this week, despite existing supply concerns.

Tang’s remarks also coincide with Beijing’s refocusing on food safety, an important priority for Beijing since the COVID-19 Pandemic started in the early 2020s.

China’s State Planner stated in its report to the Parliament meeting that there is still a shortage of grain despite several good harvests over recent years.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), in its report, stated that China would ensure that the country’s grain acreage remains above 117.33M hectares (289.93 Million acres) to address this issue.

China will increase soybean production and oil seed crops in China, according to the NDRC, a reaffirmation of top farm policy priorities.

According to it, the country will continue building momentum for an increase in corn production.

China’s record corn imports rose to an all-time high last year due to rising domestic prices and low inventories.

According to the NDRC, China will ensure the supply-demand balance for rice, vegetable oil, sweeteners, and sugar through effective imports and reserves.

China will provide subsidies of 41.639 billion Yuan ($6.59 Billion) to support agricultural insurance premiums. This is a 30.8% increase over a previous year.

Premier Li Keqiang stated that China would ensure the supply of key agricultural products this year at the beginning of the parliament meeting.

Everyone must work together to ensure that the country’s “rice bag” and “vegetable basket” are well-filled, and that we have a secure food supply for the people, Li said.

China is going to stop cropland being used other than for agriculture, Li stated in the government’s work report. This will help to protect the farmland and revive the seed industry faster.

Li stated that China will ensure better regulation of hog production in order to provide adequate supply and production for poultry, livestock and aqua products.

China’s huge pig herd was destroyed by deadly African Swine Fever Disease, which sent pork prices skyrocketing and increased consumer prices.

According to data from China, the government has been focusing on stabilizing prices and production.

($1 = 6.3188 renminbi)

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