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China’s Summer Grain Acquisitions Fell, but State Reported Grain Harvest Was “Highest in History”

A government report showing the progress of summer grain acquisitions, released on Wednesday August 12, showed that wheat purchases in regions including Hebei, Jiangsu, Anhui, Shandong, and Henan dropped by 18 percent. However, the state media in Jiangsu and Henan announced “good news.” The media claimed that the summer grain harvest “stayed at the highest level in history.”

In the past few months, disastrous events have occurred in major agriculturally productive regions in China and crops have seen severe damage. However, Zhou Xuewen, the deputy Minister of Emergency Management and deputy Minister of Water Resources, boldly predicted at a recent press conference that the year 2020 will be a great year of harvest. He stated, “The year of flooding is often the year of harvest and will be the harvest of (double-crops and) late rice. Why? The water conditions are better, and the soil is fertile. Our disaster relief measures and our post-disaster recovery and reconstruction, along with our strengthened restoration and planting management, as well as some technologies being used, mean that I don’t think food will be affected this year.”

The website of the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration published the progress of the summer grain purchases. As of August 5, the total purchase of wheat in the main producing areas was about 42.85 million tons, a drop of about 9.38 million tons, or 18 percent, on a year-on-year basis.

Between January and July, China suffered from the COVID-19 pandemic and severe flooding. Hubei, Anhui, and parts of Jiangsu were flooded. However, state media in those regions claimed that there was a grain harvest. The Jiangsu survey team of the National Bureau of Statistics released data on July 14 showing that the total output of summer grain was 25.2 billion jin (12.6 million tons), an increase of 3.6 percent over the previous year. The Henan team released data on July 17, showing that the total output of summer grains in the province reached 75.1 billion jin (37.5 million tons), around the highest level in history.

He Huiling, a farmer in Luoyang, Henan, told RFA that the drop in the purchase of summer grains is related to the reduction in grain production and the over-exploitation of arable land. “Excessive (real estate) development and excessive land acquisition have left many people with little land to grow crops. Farmers make a living by purchasing food. Many of our local lands have been confiscated.”

Another villager in Nanyang, Henan, told RFA that he does not have any residual food at all. The central government is advocating food conservation because it is worried about a food shortage, “Recently the central government has spoken out about saving food. In our hometown, there is no food in the house. The main reason is that there are fewer farmers. Another reason is the reduction in arable land.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, August 13, 2020