BEIJING, May 13 (Xinhua) -- China can achieve the bottom line requirement of "basic self-sufficiency of cereal grains and absolute food security," said a senior agricultural expert Monday.
"Food supply can ensure the construction of a moderately prosperous society in all aspects by 2020 and the basic realization of socialist modernization by 2035 in China," said Mei Xurong, vice president of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, at the 2019 China and Global Agricultural Policy Forum held in Beijing.
According to the "China Agricultural Sector Development Report 2019" released by Mei, the agriculture-food system contributes about 23.3 percent of the country's gross domestic product and 36.07 percent of employment in China, acting as a "ballast stone" in the Chinese economy.
The report analyzes the new situation and problems facing China's agricultural development and assesses the possible impact of agricultural policy adjustments and the outside world on the development of China's agricultural industry.
The year 2018 marked the 40th anniversary of rural reform in China and saw the implementation of a rural revitalization strategy. The agricultural sector has seen a positive overall trend in development, with total grain output reaching 658 million tonnes, the report says.
The gross cropped area and total yield of rice, wheat and corn decreased in 2018. As corn consumption showed rapid growth, corn imports grew significantly, by 25.2 percent for the year.
Soybean imports declined for the first time in seven years, and the annual import volume was 88.03 million tonnes, down 7.9 percent.
Affected by the African swine fever epidemic, China's stock of live pigs decreased by 4.8 percent year on year in 2018. The consumption of livestock products and aquatic products showed growth, except for pork. Imports of beef and milk increased significantly. More than 98 percent of lamb imports were from New Zealand and Australia.
The trade surplus of aquatic products continued to shrink, as the Belt and Road Initiative offered new opportunities for trade in aquatic products, the report says.
China's potato production exceeded 100 million tonnes for the first time and maintained a net export trend. The gross cropped area and output of cotton in China declined in 2018, with cotton imports reaching 1.57 million tonnes, up 35.3 percent year on year. China continued to rank the first in the world both in planting area and output of vegetables.
The report says the epidemic of African swine fever has accelerated the pace of industrial restructuring and promoted the optimization of China's meat consumption structure.
It will lead to a 10.3 percent drop in domestic pork production and a 2.19-fold increase in net imports to 4.96 million tonnes.
The increase in pork imports will reduce the demand for feed grains such as rice, wheat, corn and soybean meal. It's estimated that when China's pork net imports increase from 1.55 million tonnes to 4.96 million tonnes, net grain imports will decrease by 13.39 million tonnes.
At Monday's forum, Fan Shenggen, head of the International Food Policy Research Institute, released the "2019 Global Food Policy Report," which spotlights the urgent need for rural revitalization to address persistent crises in the world's rural areas.
The report predicts 2019 may be another difficult year. Global economic growth is projected to slow over the next two years. The worrying trends will undoubtedly affect rural areas most.
The report points out that in just under a decade, rural areas could become the primary hubs of innovation, not only in agriculture but also in manufacturing and services, providing a means for many rural residents to move out of poverty, malnutrition, and a low quality of life, and perhaps even to stem the flow of rural-urban migration. The potential is vast.
"With perseverance, 2019 can be the year when the will to eliminate hunger and malnutrition finally gathers momentum, forging a bright future for poor people around the world," Fan said.