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Food security a major concern as 190m Chinese rely on imports

Food security a major concern as 190m Chinese rely on imports

China's food self-sufficiency has dropped below 90% despite the country's food production increasing over the past nine years. Around 190 million people in China rely on imported food, says Han Jun, deputy director of the Development Research Center under the State Council.

Imported grain reached 77 million tonnes last year, said Han.

Imports of soybean in particular increased dramatically last year. China was a net exporter of soybean prior to 1996 but the country imported 58 million tonnes of soybean in 2012, accounting for 60% of the global harvest. China is now only able to produce 20% of the soybean it consumes.

Food production is not the only concern for the country's food security — the cheaper prices of grain from other countries is a challenge for China's farmers. Rice from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos is now 30% cheaper than rice produced in China, said Han.

Another reason is the sea change in the structure of China's food consumption, Han said, noting that the past 20 years have seen the consumption of seafood increase fivefold, chicken fourfold and pork double.

Han warned that the increasing price of wheat and rice will be a major burden for the country with its population of approaching 1.4 billion if it cannot be self-sufficient.

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