China Flexes Green Thumb As It Pursues Agricultural Self-Reliance

Via the South China Morning Post, a look at China’s renewed efforts to pursue agricultural self-reliance:

  • Country racks up breakthroughs as it turbocharges efforts to guarantee sustainable food production

  • Renewed emphasis on food security as trade relations, geopolitics get increasingly unpredictable

As climate change instigates more extreme weather events, geopolitical squabbles break down international relations and protectionism dissolves previously reliable trade networks, China is accelerating its campaign for agricultural self-reliance and food security.

As progress continues on this front, here are some of the more notable achievements made in 2023 thus far.

Durians, made in China

China harvested its first crop of home-grown durians in late July from its southern tropical island of Hainan.

Though relatively small, the yield carried great symbolism. The tropical fruit, known for its potent smell, is mainly produced in Thailand, Malaysia and Vietnam.

The domestic durians were priced at around 120 yuan (US$16) per kilogram – about three times the cost of most imported durians – and their farming area was only 93.3 hectares.

As the world’s largest durian consumer market, China imported 825,000 tonnes of the fruit in 2022, according to customs data.

GM crop trials expanded

The Ministry of Agriculture announced in late August it would widen its trial of genetically modified (GM) corn and soybeans to 20 counties across five provinces.

It also started GM seed production in northwestern Gansu province this year.

In an article published in Farmers’ Daily, its official publication, the ministry attempted to ease public concerns that GM food may cause cancer and infertility by citing examples of its safe adoption in other countries. To ensure stable food production, the technology – which is estimated to increase corn and soybean yields by 5.6 to 11.6 per cent – could be essential.

White-feathered chicken takes flight

China began exporting its home-grown white-feathered chicken to Tanzania in June.

The fast-growing, meaty breed represents nearly 50 per cent of China’s poultry production, according to the China Animal Agriculture Association.

Due to an avian flu outbreak in North America and a nosedive in the number of international flights, China reduced its reliance on the United States last year, according to a February report by Guosen Securities. The US is a major import destination for China’s breeder white-feathered chickens.

The introductory self-sufficiency rate of China’s “Shengze 901” breed increased from 10.56 per cent in 2021 to 25.82 per cent last year, the report stated.

More soybeans produced in-house

China’s self-sufficiency rate in soybeans went up 3 percentage points last year, reaching 18.5 per cent according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

The world’s biggest soybean importer, China decreased its intake to 91.1 million metric tonnes in 2022, a drop of 5.6 per cent year on year according to China’s Ministry of Commerce.

Imports from the United States and Brazil, China’s two major sources of the crop, fell by 10 per cent and 6 per cent, respectively.

The ministry vowed to grow domestic soybeans at an annual rate of 7 per cent over the next decade and achieve a 30.7 per cent self-sufficiency rate by 2032. It made the pledge in its Agricultural Outlook Report for 2023-32, published in April.

Breakthroughs in salt-tolerant rapeseed

China announced it had made a breakthrough in growing salt-tolerant rapeseed after a trial in the coastal Dongtai county of eastern Jiangsu province this June, according to a report released by China Science Daily, a newspaper affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

This new species achieved a total of 323.87kg per mu harvested, which represents an increase of 59.5 per cent from the average yield.

Total oil production from the rapeseed could reach 163.17kg per mu, a theoretical increase of 82.7 per cent.

Aquafarming in the oasis

China has begun to develop seawater aquafarming in the inland Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, raising freshwater fish, king prawn, abalone and lobsters.

The aquaculture firm Shi Shi Xian has developed a method to simulate seawater in its fishery on the edge of the desert using the region’s natural salinity.

China hopes to lift its aquatic production to 69 million tonnes by 2025, and the Xinjiang government is aiming to increase its own annual output to around 30,000 tonnes by the same year.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2023 at 4:17 pm and is filed under Uncategorized.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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Seeds Of A Revolution is committed to defining the disruptive geopolitics of the global Farms Race.  Due to the convergence of a growing world population, increased water scarcity, and a decrease in arable land & nutrient-rich soil, a spike of international investment interest in agricultural is inevitable and apt to bring a heretofore domestic industry into a truly global realm.  Whether this transition involves global land leases or acquisitions, the fundamental need for food & the protectionist feelings this need can give rise to is highly likely to cause such transactions to move quickly into the geopolitical realm.  It is this disruptive change, and the potential for a global farms race, that Seeds Of A Revolution tracks, analyzes, and forecasts.

Educated at Yale University (Bachelor of Arts - History) and Harvard (Master in Public Policy - International Development), Monty Simus has long held a keen interest in natural resource policy and the geopolitical implications of anticipated stresses in the areas of freshwater scarcity, biodiversity reserves & parks, and farm land.  Monty has lived, worked, and traveled in more than forty countries spanning Africa, China, western Europe, the Middle East, South America, and Southeast & Central Asia, and his personal interests comprise economic development, policy, investment, technology, natural resources, and the environment, with a particular focus on globalization’s impact upon these subject areas.  Monty writes about freshwater scarcity issues at and frontier investment markets at