China adopts new law to fortify food security
Published: Jun 02, 2024 08:37 PM
Two workers put dried wheat into storage at an agricultural company in Xuchang, Central China's Henan Province on June 2, 2024. As wheat in Xuchang, the main wheat-producing area of Henan Province, is ripening, growers are harvesting and storing the crops, with a number of enterprises starting to purchase wheat.

Two workers put dried wheat into storage at an agricultural company in Xuchang, Central China's Henan Province on June 2, 2024. The summer wheat harvesting season kicked off in China. So far, roughly 20 percent of wheat harvest work in Henan has been completed. Photo: VCG

China's food security law took effect on Saturday, as the country steps up efforts to ensure the supply of grain and related products to fend off food security risks, while safeguarding economic and social stability and national security.

Analysts said that the law provides a legal guarantee for fortifying the country's food security. They stressed that China's food security is well guaranteed on the whole, and the central government will be able to ensure that the rice bowls of the 1.4 billion Chinese people will always be firmly held in their own hands.

The law comprises of 11 chapters with provisions covering the whole process of grain supply, from production and reserves to circulation and processing.

In terms of grain processing, the law proposes efforts to encourage and guide the development of the industry and ensure the supply and security of grain processing products.
Recognizing the importance of arable land protection, the law provides that redlines to protect farmland, permanent basic cropland, ecosystems and urban development boundaries shall be drawn and maintained.

Focused on issues vital to China's foundation for food security, the new law will have a profound impact on comprehensively consolidating the country's food security foundation, preventing risks and improving emergency grain supply capacity, Li Guoxiang, a research fellow at the Rural Development Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times on Sunday.

By asking provincial governments to include food security in their economic and development plans, and holding them accountable for grain security and farmland protection, the law will better regulate local governments' behavior in ensuring food security, Li said.

However, the rollout of the law does not mean China's food security situation has deteriorated, Li said. The country's food security is amply guaranteed, with grain output hitting a record high in 2023 and grain prices remaining stable despite international grain price fluctuations, he said.

China had a grain harvest of more than 650 million tons for the ninth consecutive year in 2023, while the per capita share of grain at 493 kilograms (kg) was above the internationally recognized security line of 400 kg, official data showed.

According to the law, the country will boost sci-tech innovation and IT applications for ensuring food security, and it will support basic research as well as key technology research and development (R&D) in the grain field.

Enhancing China's agriculture technologies and expanding the use of technologies in the whole process of farm production, including seeds, grain storage and processing, is important to increase grain yields and agricultural efficiency, Ma Wenfeng, a senior analyst at the Beijing Orient Agribusiness Consultancy, told the Global Times on Sunday.

He called for provincial governments and enterprises to increase R&D investment and support for breakthroughs in key technologies.

In April this year, China initiated a new round of action to significantly increase its grain output in the coming years, in another effort to ensure food security.

According to an action plan published by the State Council, the cabinet, China aims to boost grain production capacity by more than 50 million tons by 2030. At that time, the grain growing area will total about 1.75 billion mu (117 million hectares), and the grain yield per mu will reach 420 kg.

Major projects from water conservation to high-standard farmland construction and revitalization of the seed industry will be implemented in 720 crucial grain-producing counties, under the guidance of the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

China has stepped up macro-policy adjustments to promote a sustained economic recovery. The new action plan to increase grain output made arrangements in the construction of multiple key projects and support measures. 

These measures will effectively drive investment to spur a macro-economic rebound while enhancing agricultural modernization and cementing the foundation of national food security, Li said.