China still has potential to increase its grain output

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China still has potential to increase its grain output as long as it increases efforts to boost agricultural infrastructure construction and technology, an official said on Friday.

Although China's grain imports increased last year, its major cereal products were basically self-sufficient because of balanced market supply and demand, Tang Renjian, deputy director of the office of the leading group on rural work under the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said at a press conference.

China's grain imports will see changes in terms of product variety, but import volumes will stay stable for a relatively long time in the future, Tang said.

Continuous increases in grain output in past years have mainly been attributed to technological advances, said Chen Xiwen, deputy director of the leading group on rural work.

Chen said the construction of water conservancy infrastructure and an emphasis on advancing agricultural technology will help ensure greater yields on limited farmland.

Customs data showed that China's rice imports more than quadrupled from the previous year to reach 2.32 million tonnes in 2012, triggering worries regarding their possible impact on the global grain market.

In the context of economic globalization, moderate imports of short-supplied grain products will help stabilize domestic prices, which is beneficial to both China and overseas sellers, Chen said.

Chen said lower grain prices on the overseas market have made imports more beneficial to domestic buyers, which led to an increase in imports of grain, especially rice, last year.

In south China's Guangdong Province and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, imported rice prices were about 20 percent lower than those in the domestic market last year, according to Chen.

The share of rice imports accounted for less than 2 percent of China's rice output, meaning a higher self-sufficiency rate, Chen said.

The rise in rice imports will not threaten global food security because the imports only account for a small share of international rice trade, as well as domestic production and consumption, the Ministry of Agriculture said last week.

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