China to stabilise grain output and boost oilseed crop, minister says

BEIJING, Dec 27 (Reuters) - China will stabilise corn production and expand soybean output in the new year to ensure grain security, the Communist Party's People's Daily quoted the agriculture minister as saying on Monday.

"Safeguarding supply security of grains, and important agricultural and sideline products is always our top task and main priority," Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs Tang Renjian said in an interview with People's Daily.

"Agricultural and rural affairs departments must devote every effort to grain production, with the attitude of conducting a desperate fight, and with extraordinary and super strength."

Tang's comments come against the backdrop of lingering concern over food security in the world's most populous country as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt food supply chains and logistics across the globe.

China's soybean output this year dropped sharply from last year while corn production increased as farmers sought to take advantage of better profitability. read more

In a statement released later, the agriculture ministry also emphasised that it would "ensure the stability of grain planting area in China".

Constant rains in October had delayed wheat planting in China's main wheat regions, potentially affecting growth while excess moisture could cause more crop diseases. read more

The ministry also said it would expand soybean oilseed production and restore soybean planting areas in northeast China.

"(We will) take expanding soybean oilseed production as a major political task that must be completed next year," the ministry said, adding that it will also pay "close attention" to production of rapeseed and peanut oilseed while taking measures to expand acreage and increase oilseed yields.

Tang called for abandoned land to be cultivated while maximising the potential of intercropping to ensure stable grains acreage in 2022, People's Daily reported.

The minister's messages followed the two-day annual central rural work conference held over the weekend, where China's central leadership delivered similar guideline on stable grain production and oilseed expansion, according to a state media report late on Sunday.

Beijing vowed to safeguard grain security and ensure effective supplies of livestock, fish farming products and vegetables in 2022, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing comments made at the conference.

"Ensuring the supplies of primary products is a major strategic issue," Chinese President Xi Jinping said before the conference.

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Emily Chow Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and David Goodman

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