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With the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine and the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, now in its third year, global grain prices are rising dramatically, which is a harbinger of a possible food crisis worldwide.
At this juncture, some Western media are claiming that China is hoarding grains by increasing its procurement of corn and wheat on the international market. This is obviously meant to smear China and portray the country as a saboteur of global food security. This is nothing but a conspiracy theory.
China does import some grains from the global market, but it exports grains as well. It is unfair and unreasonable to accuse China of hoarding grains simply because of its routine trade deals.
China has witnessed famines time and again in its history, and its huge population of more than 1.4 billion and its scarce arable land, just 9 per cent of the world’s total, serve as an alarm bell for the country’s leadership to always place enough emphasis on the protection of arable land and grain production.
At the annual session of the country’s top political advisory body on March 6, President Xi Jinping pointed out that China needs to stabilize food and corn production, and increase the output of soybean and oilseeds to make sure “Chinese bowls are mainly filled with Chinese food”.
As a result of the country’s long-standing emphasis on food self-sufficiency, China’s grain production has been stabilized at over 650 billion kilograms for seven consecutive years, making the country the world’s largest grain producer and the third-largest grain exporter across the globe.
Rather than making itself a burden on global food security, China has made an extraordinary contribution to international food security by achieving one-fourth of the world’s total grain output with which it feeds one-fifth of the global population.
Ensuring the country’s food security has been a priority for the country for decades. This is verified by the fact that the first policy document issued by the central government every year is about agriculture.
China also does what it can to help enhance the food security of other countries.
As a responsible country, China is an important strategic partner of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s South-South Cooperation. The country has donated $130 million in recent years to the fund under this framework. It has also provided emergency food aid to a number of countries since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the belief that curbing food waste is also a key contribution to global food security, the country has launched a series of national food awareness campaigns. Thanks to such efforts, about 13 million tons of food were saved each year after production in the five years from 2016 to 2020.
Globally, around 14 per cent of food produced is lost between harvest and retail, according to the United Nations, while an estimated 17 per cent of total global food production is wasted. In the United States, for example, some 30 to 40 per cent of food is wasted each year, data from the US Department of Agriculture show.