China will continue to see increasing imports of corn and soybeans from international markets to satisfy rising domestic demand in the next few decades, said senior officials and academics.

The country recorded grain output of more than 589 million metric tons in 2012. It was the ninth consecutive year of increased grain harvests, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Chen Xiwen, director of the Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee’s Leading Group on Rural Work, praised achievements in agricultural production over the past 10 years.

“But meanwhile, some agricultural products have had supply problems, which were mainly triggered by rapid growth in domestic consumption,” he said during a two-day forum on rural issues that ended on Jan 6.

The total import volume of grains, including soybeans, reached 66 million tons from January to November last year in China, Chen said at the forum that was launched by the China Institute for Rural Studies at Tsinghua University.

The import volume of soybeans in the first 11 months last year hit 53 million tons and is expected to reach 60 million tons in 2012, which means China has bought nearly 60% of the total trade-able soybeans in international markets a year, he said.

Huang Jikun, director of the Center for Chinese Agriculture Policy at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the increasing grain imports are mainly driven by domestic need for grains for fodder and industrial use.

For instance, an increase of about 1 to 2 million tons of corn imported from overseas markets annually will be foreseeable in China in the next few decades, he said. Yet, there is a potential for China to increase yields through technical advances to promote domestic production, depending on institutional innovation.

Source: China Daily Jan 2013

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