Quantity against Quality: China is radically changing its course in agriculture

Times of record crops in China have passed, Beijing has achieved self-sufficiency and wants to get rid of stocks that are too big. Instead, the quality of products will come first.

Every year in January and February, the largest migratory movements of the planet happen in China. About 275 million workers return to their families from construction sites and factories for two-week New Year holidays. This mass migration demonstrates the greatest challenge China is facing – a gigantic chasm between city and countryside. The average income in the city is twice as big as one of those who live in the countryside. The vast majority of the Chinese migrate to big cities and the industrial coast of China.

Therefore, it’s not surprising that over the past 14 years, the Chinese government has chosen the developing of agriculture as its primary goal. However, the harvests of several recent years show that underproduction is no longer a major fear. On the contrary, authorities are more concerned about the overproduction of certain products. In particular, corn. The stimulation of domestic prices and government procurement has led to an increase of land occupied by corn fields: 37 million hectares in 2013 compared to 13 million hectares in 2003. For comparison, in the EU, the amount of land occupied by corn fields is 8.5 – 9.5 million hectares.

At the same time, due to the rapid development of pig breeding, demand for soybeans increased, and China had to import five times more soybeans than before.
This year in Beijing they started talking about changes in the development of agriculture. From now on they will focus on quality rather than quantity of products, and the production of goods will be targeted at the market. For example, they offer to reduce the amount of land occupied by corn fields and – to make their products more competitive on the market.

China also has an issue with groundwater. As a result, ​​133 million hectares of agricultural land ​​is being lost, and by 2020 it will be 124 million hectares more. The government plans to allocate 88 billion dollars for the modernization of agricultural land.

In their statement, the Chinese government also said that those who live in the countryside would work to stimulate small business. Companies involved in tourism and online trade will be taxed and financially attracted to work in rural areas.

At this point, we don’t know if these steps will be effective and what consequences they will bring. However, the positive thing is that specific political measures to combat depopulation of rural areas are being developed. In the end, agriculture still provides one-third of jobs for Chinese workers and a growing population with food.


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