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China Supplies 95% of Its Own Grain Needs in Past 10 Years

China has mainly relied on itself to feed its population of more than 1.3 billion and the country has successfully supplied over 95 percent of its grain needs in the past 10 years, the Beijing Youth Daily reported Friday, quoting an agricultural official.

Li Zhengdong, director of the International Cooperation Department under the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), said the Chinese government had prioritized food security and grain self-sufficiency.

"In the last 10 years, China has mostly been a net exporter of grain, except in 2004. The country has been more than 95 percent self-sufficient in grain in the last 10 years and its grain security is guaranteed," said Li.

According to Li, since 2003, China's grain output posted an increase for four years in a row. In 2007, grain output reached 500 billion kilograms, 70 billion kilograms more than that of 2003, figures released by the MOA showed.

And this year, China had the fifth year in a row of increasing summer grain harvests, he said.

The world's most populous country has been feeding its people on its own. This is a major contribution to the world's grain security, said the official. Official figures showed that the country's output of rice, the most important stable food, topped 185 billion kilograms last year, slightly more than the domestic consumption volume between 180 to 185 billion kilograms.

China's ratio of grain reserves to consumption is higher than the 17 to 18 percent level, which is regarded as a safe minimum for global stocks, said the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner, in May.

Since late last year, China has decided to strictly control grain export to ensure domestic supply and fight inflation, abolishing tax rebates, levying temporary duties, and imposing quotas on the export of some grain products like rice and wheat.

On Dec. 20 of 2007, China scrapped a 13 percent export tax rebate on major grains, including wheat, corn and soybean as well as their flour products.

Then as of Jan. 1 this year, the country decided to levy export tax on wheat, corn, rice, soybean and relevant processed products. The export tax rates ranged from five to 25 percent and would be effective for the whole year.

These measures have partly paid off. According to figures released by the General Administration of Customs, China exported 1.16 million tons of grain in the first five months, down 77 percent over the same period of last year.

Commenting on the current situation of global food security, Li said international grain prices had been rising rapidly and global food security was faced with serious challenges.

Li said the jump in international grain prices was attributed to such factors as the rise of living costs owing to soaring oil prices, rapid development of biofuel and increasing demand for grain.

According to a World Bank report released on April 9, global wheat prices had soared 181 percent over the 36 months leading up to February 2008, and overall international food prices had risen by 83 percent.

Also in April, the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, said in Switzerland that biofuel policies implemented by the United States and the European Union were one of the main causes of the current worldwide food crisis.

According to Ziegler, the United States used a third of its corn crop last year to produce biofuels while the EU was planning to create biofuels to supply 10 percent of its energy demand.

Ziegler also warned of worsening food riots and an increase of deaths by starvation as the current world food crisis continued.

(Xinhua News Agency July 4, 2008)

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