Chinese County Says It Can Only Meet Half of Grain Reserve Quota, Fueling Food Shortage Concerns

September 21, 2020 Updated: September 21, 2020

A Chinese county government recently admitted that it was unable to meet a quota to set up a 5 million-kilogram (about 5,511-ton) grain reserve, fueling concerns that China faces a food crisis.

According to the website of the Huguan county government of Changzhi city, Shanxi Province, the city in 2014 assigned Huguan county to establish the grain reserve. Shanxi Province is a major wheat-producing region of China.

In recent days, the county grain center conducted a survey and reported that it has only 2.5 million kilograms of grain reserves: 1 million of wheat and 1.5 million of corn.
Huguan County is governed by Changzhi City and has a total population of nearly 300,000. In response to Beijing’s national policy goal of “building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020,” the Shanxi provincial government proclaimed in February that Huguan county was no longer a “national level poverty-stricken county.”

However, according to Chinese media reports, the Huguan government explained that it couldn’t meet the grain storage quota because the county is still poverty-stricken. “The financial resources are relatively insufficient and the higher leadership does not pay enough attention [to the issue],” it said.

From June to early September, record rainfall hit large swathes of China, causing flooding, including in the Changzhi city region.

In early August 2019, the entire province of Shanxi also suffered from major flooding and crops were destroyed.

The county government announcement comes amid a spate of pessimistic news on China’s food security.

On July 27, during a meeting on food security in Beijing, Chinese vice premier Hu Chunhua urged in a speech that all regions “only increase grain production, with no decreases allowed.”

Chinese media also reported in late July that ahead of Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s visit to Jilin Province in northeastern China—another breadbasket region—the central government urged that farmers grow more grain and convert orchards and fish ponds to farmland in order to grow the crops.

Reuters, quoting analysts and traders’ forecasts this month, predicted that starting in October, China will face the first corn shortage for the fiscal year 2020 to 2021, and may face a supply gap of up to 30 million tons—about 10 percent of China’s total corn output. The number also far exceeds China’s current import quota of 7 million tons.