China’s State Council Issues Directives to Bolster Food Security Amid Growing Concerns

by Ella

In a bid to safeguard food security and prevent a large-scale relapse into poverty, China’s State Council has issued directives to local governments and rural communities. The recent order emphasizes the imperative to maintain grain production levels above the minimum required and highlights President Xi Jinping’s poverty alleviation project as a model for local authorities.

According to the annual agricultural and rural policy document, known as “Document No. 1,” the national grain output must surpass 1.3 trillion jin (650 million tons) in 2024. The directive underscores the significance of learning from Xi Jinping’s poverty alleviation project, particularly the strategy of “storing food in the land,” which involves fallow agricultural land that can be quickly utilized for food crops if grain stores are running low.


The document also emphasizes the need to strengthen the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party in matters related to agriculture, rural areas, and farmers, as reported by state news agency Xinhua.


The move comes amid concerns over the large-scale abandonment of agricultural land by farmers in recent years, prompting authorities to revisit the issue of food security. Current affairs commentator Guo Min notes that the inclusion of food security in this year’s Document No. 1 indicates ongoing challenges for the authorities in maintaining rural grain production levels.


Despite the government’s declaration in November 2020 that extreme poverty had been eliminated through mass urban migration, there has been an increased focus on day-to-day controls over farming activities. This includes deploying “agricultural management” enforcement officials to tighten state control over grain supply and facilitate land transfers away from farmers if necessary.


Guo Min suggests that the reference to “preventing a large-scale return to poverty” implies a situation that has already transpired. He expresses concerns over China’s financial constraints, citing empty local government coffers and unpaid civil service wages due to the three-year zero-COVID policy.

Experts, including Yang Haiying, a professor at Japan’s Shizuoka University, suggest that the authorities are likely concerned about potential food shortages leading to social unrest. The fear of global food shortages following geopolitical events, such as the Russia-Ukraine war, has heightened the government’s awareness of potential crises both domestically and internationally.

To address the challenges faced by rural areas, the government is exploring initiatives to revitalize these regions through business partnerships. The aim is to attract entrepreneurs and farmers to settle in rural areas, countering the trend of residents seeking additional income through factory or construction work in cities.

As the government grapples with rising living costs and seeks to ensure food security, experts suggest that comprehensive policies, such as increasing purchase prices for grain, will be essential to address the complex challenges facing China’s agriculture sector.



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