China’s central government has issued a one-time subsidy of 10 billion yuan (US$1.45 billion) to actual grain farmers in order to support spring farming and stimulate the enthusiasm of farmers to plant crops. According to official data, China has approximately 500 million farmers, including 300 million rural migrant workers and fewer than 200 million permanent residents. This is the first time the government has offered a one-time financial subsidy to farmers. The subsidy targets those who actually grow crops, including those who use their own contracted land, large-scale households, family farms, farmers’ cooperatives, agricultural enterprises, and individuals and organizations that provide full-cycle socialized services for grain cultivation and harvesting.
However, some agricultural experts claim that China’s food security situation is severe and this subsidy is not enough to solve the problem. Yang Hua, a retired lecturer at Yunnan University, claimed that the subsidy would only provide 66 yuan (US $9.60) per person to approximately 150 million grain farmers, which would only be enough to purchase 20 kilograms of rice. Meanwhile, Cai Shenkun, a senior financial commentator, stated that, in recent years, there has been a significant shortage of rural labor in China. The phenomenon of farmland abandonment is very serious, particularly in coastal areas. In this situation, farmers have no incentive to grow crops since the more they grow, the more money they lose. As a result, the government must increase grain prices to support farmers and ensure food security.
Additionally, Chinese customs data for the first two months of 2023 revealed that the price of grain and of edible vegetable oil imports has risen significantly, indicating a further strain on China’s food security.
Source: Radio Free Asia, April 17, 2023