China's grain output rises for 10th consecutive year

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In the year 2013, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council issued a package of pro-agriculture and pro-farmer policies, and agricultural authorities at all levels intensified efforts to reach the “Two Economic,Two Safety and Two Continuous Increase” Goals (more than 500 million tons in grain output and more than 7% in growth of farmers’ income; no major epizootics and no major quality & safety issues for farm produce; and to increase percentage contribution of science and technology to agricultural growth and to increase efficiency of agricultural resource utilization continuously). As a result, China overcame various adversities like low temperature and heavy floods in Northeast China, severe droughts in southeastern and northwestern regions as well as several hits of powerful typhoon, and achieved another bumper year for grain production upon its previous high record. Detailed information is elaborated as follows:

First, grain production achieved 10 consecutive years of growth. In 2013, the output of summer grain, early rice and autumn grain increased by 1.955 billion kilograms,785,000 kilograms and 9.6 billion kilograms respectively over last year, and the total grain output registered 601.935 billion kilogram, increasing by 12.355 billion kilogram. It is the first time the country achieved 10 consecutive years of rising grain harvests since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Second, cash crop production remained stable. It is estimated that the output of oil-bearing crops will increase by 2.2% for the whole year. Cotton and sugar crop production dropped slightly due to planting acreage decline, and vegetable production kept stable,achieving balanced supply-and-demand in the market. Third, crop products presented higher quality. At present, there are 33 highly-toxic pesticides banned for use, while highly toxic pesticides in major vegetable production counties are exclusively marketed by officially designated business outlets. According to the results of regular surveillance, the pass rates of vegetable and fruit both maintained as high as 97% or above.

Experience and good practices contributing to this year's achievement can be summarized as follows: 

Supportive policies. The central government continued to reinforce the implementation of pro-agriculture and pro-farmer policies, allocated earmarked fund for the "Four Subsidies"(direct subsidies for grain farming; general subsidies for agricultural production inputs; subsidies for growing improved plant varieties; and subsidies for purchase of agricultural machinery and tools)in the very beginning of the year, and raised the floor prices for rice and wheat. For the first time, the government issued the temporary state purchase and storage policy for corn in advance and raised its purchase price. In particular, the central government spent nearly 4 billion yuan to extend and apply key technologies for disaster reduction/prevention and yield boosting, such as spraying foliage pesticide and fertilizer mixtures to prevent diseases, pests, premature senescence and dry-hot wind in wheat production. On the other hand, agricultural authorities at all levels strengthened their efforts in advocating and implementing those supportive policies, in order to mitigate adverse climate impacts while motivate farmers to engage in grain production at the meantime.

Tailored guidance. In order to overcome difficulties emerged in grain production and agricultural development, this year MOA launched three special campaigns to "combat floods and ensurespring sowing in northeast area; resist drought and protect spring crops in northwest and southwest areas; and nurse seedlings in a collective way to boost output in the middle and lower reaches of Yangtze River". Also, MOA set up expert panels to formulate 20 technological guidelines that are tailored for various regions and crops and adapted to distinctive farming seasons and weather conditions. When in season, MOA dispatched 68 working teams and expert panels to major grain producing areas as well as areas heavily affected by disasters, to push forward the working process and provide assistance with technological instructions. These efforts laid a solid basis for grain harvest of this year.

Expertise on disaster reduction. In response to the frequent affliction of serious natural disasters, agricultural authorities conducted studies and adopted effective countermeasures, while necessary adjustment in technological solutions was also made promptly. Besides, expert panels were established to work out appropriate anti-disaster schemes according to the specific local conditions, calamity types and crops, and facilitate the comprehensive implementation of relief measures. Apart from the policy to protect winter wheat production, the authorities also made a decision to provide targeted subsidies for rice greenhouses and farmers' integrated fertilization practices, a significant act contributing to the bumper harvest of autumn grain. To deal with the severe summer drought in southern area, China adopted a policy of alternative crop seeding and reseeding, and delivered subsidies for additional rice fertilization,to retrieve the loss to the largest extent.

Strengthened efforts on pest & disease control. In face of frequent pest and disease incidences, MOA urged competent local authorities to take effective actions to protect key grain crops against major pests and diseases. Under the guidance of the central government and with the coordinated efforts of multi-tier authorities,three campaigns on pest&disease prevention and control were rolled out across the country, targeting armyworm and rice blast in North and Northeast China, potato late blight in Northwest China, and rice planthopper and leaf roller in the South. As a result, 25% of major pests and diseases of key grain crops were brought under control, up by 5% compared with that of last year.

Higher-yield grain program. In 2013, MOA continued to carry out the higher-yield program for grain, cotton, oil-bearing crops and sugar crops, covering 12,500 demonstration zones (with a scale of some 667 hectares for each)and engaging the entire 5 municipalities, 50 counties and 500 townships, as an attempt to explore innovative models boosting agricultural output in a comprehensive way. Besides, with consorted efforts of experts and local authorities, the Ministry established 58 higher-yield production models involving 4 major regions, 29 major grain producing areas and 5 key grain crops, to demonstrate standard operation of agricultural production. In order to tackle technical bottlenecks and weaknesses, MOA initiated 9 key research projects (e.g. lime concretion black soil improvement project in Huang-Huai-Hai plain), and pooled available resources for major breakthroughs as supportive pillars to the fast-growing agricultural sector. In total,2,349 higher-yield wheat demonstration zones (with a scale about 667 hectares) were established nationwide, with an average yield of 528 kilograms, higher than common fields of the same location by 20% or above.

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