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China to plant more soy, speed up GMOs to ensure food supply

Published on February 15,2023 | Reuters | Malaya

BEIJING- China will increase its efforts to boost output of soybeans and edible oils, state media reported late on Monday, citing a key rural policy document, as it continues to push for greater self-sufficiency in its key food supplies.

The world’s top soybean buyer is trying to lower its heavy reliance on imports of the oilseed as the pandemic, growing trade tensions and increasing climate disasters raise concerns about feeding its 1.4 billion people.

In its annual rural policy blueprint, known as the “No. 1 document”, the State Council, China’s cabinet, reiterated a recently stated goal to boost grain production capacity by 50 million tons, from current production of more than 650 million tons.

It will seek to raise corn yields, further support wheat farmers and “vigorously” promote rapeseed production, as well as lesser known oilseed crops such as camelia, state news agency Xinhua reported.

“China’s biggest problem is not how much area to plant, but how to achieve technological progress,” said Ma Wenfeng, senior analyst at Beijing-based agriculture consultancy BOABC, noting that corn yields in China were much lower than in the United States.

Lifting yields required an overhaul of the industrial structure and system, he added.

Beijing also plans to speed up the pace of commercialization of biotech corn and soybeans, according to the document, which should eventually help raise yields.

No time frame was provided for the launch of GMO corn and soybeans, but many in the market expect a launch this year.

“We believe that 2023 has a high probability of becoming the first year of China’s biological breeding industrialization,” said analysts at Citic Securities in a note on Tuesday, noting that last year’s policy document had not mentioned biotech industrialization.

Shares of leading seed companies fell on Tuesday however, as the market had already priced in expectations of policy support for commercializing GMOs, said an analyst who did not want to be named.

Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Co Ltd fell 6.7 percent while Yuan Longping High Tech Agriculture was down almost 5 percent.

The document said China will fully implement a campaign to reduce soymeal rations in feed, another move to lower its reliance on soybean imports.

However, it acknowledged the role played by trade, and said it would “implement the diversification strategy of agricultural product imports thoroughly”.

The document also outlined plans to protect soil and conserve water, while strengthening controls on the use of arable land.

It also called for further development of indoor farms, with plans to explore building such facilities in the Gobi and other deserts.




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