Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leader Xi Jinping expressed concern about a food crisis at a recent meeting, despite the official media reporting 18 consecutive years of good harvests in China.
Xi noted that “arable land is still decreasing,” according to official media CPC News on Dec. 12, citing Xi’s speech at a Dec. 8 economic work conference, “Some places have a lot of good lands where they don’t grow grain … so what about grain?”
“China’s grain production has been bountiful for at least 18 consecutive years,” claimed state-run China National Radio on Dec. 1. The Bureau of Statistics released the data showing total grain production in 2021 reached a record 682.85 million tons, a rise of 13.36 million tons, or 2.0 percent, compared with last year.
The official data, which likely failed to assure Xi, also calls into question whether it is more likely to be the “CCP’s usual political propaganda for the regime’s stability, because low yield of grain is a big woe for China’s agriculture,” said Liao Shiming, Hong Kong-based financial columnist.
Liao further explained that those high-yield lands in southeastern provinces—the economic engines of China—have been basically industrialized, while some newly-explored arable lands are in western China, where the natural conditions are not suitable for farming due to insufficient rainfall and poor temperatures.
Furthermore, industrial waste, fertilizer, and pesticides have resulted in land pollution. AmbScience, an Environmental Engineering Consulting and Services enterprise, quoted April 2014 data by China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, saying that 349 million mu of arable land in China is seriously contaminated, accounting for about one-fifth (19.4 percent) of the total arable land area.
Since the CCP launched a nationwide “returning farmland to forest” campaign in a bid to “improve the ecological environment” in 2002, China saw 139 million mu of arable land disappear as of 2019, all converted to forest or grassland, a June 2020 report of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration showed.
One witness told The Epoch Times that a large piece of fertile, arable, land next to his home, in a major grain-producing region of Northeast China, which had been planted with corn, was forcibly taken from the farmers by the local authorities and given to a local man to grow trees.
The Epoch Times reporter found it is not only the policy of “returning farmland to forest” that discourages farmers’ work passion, the high cost of agricultural supplies such as seed, fertilizer, and farm equipment, as well as continuous officially suppressed grain prices and a ban on personal inter-provincial transport of grain, have seriously dampened farmers’ inclination to work.
Some farmers in northeast China’s main grain-producing areas told The Epoch Times, “Nowadays, [we] can’t earn much money from farming, and even lose money,” “seed and fertilizer are so expensive, and small subsidies are not even enough to pay the village’s tasks.”
“Village tasks” refers to farmers having to pay certain fees assigned by village officials under various names, sometimes they are gray expenses not listed in the administration budget, and being expected to compensate the government with money when they are unable to perform the voluntary work assigned by the village authorities.
In 2020, Yuan Longping, a Chinese rice expert, when interviewed by state-run CCTV, was asked if there was enough food to feed people in China, Yuan replied that there is not enough food and some, like grain and legumes, has to be imported from other countries, otherwise, there would be a serious problem of famine in China.
Liao said that starting last year, China was snapping up global grain amidst its reported “bumper crop,” highlighting the Communist regime’s urgent need to increase its grain stocks.
China’s total grain imports have grown to a record high in the last two years, China Agricultural Outlook on Nov. 15. cited Customs’ data, saying grain imports in 2020 increased by 27.97 percent compared to 2019; 137.956 million tons of grain were imported in the first 10 months of 2021, an uptick of nearly 23 percent year-on-year; and the total amount of grain imported for 2021 is expected to exceed that of 2020.