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Premier Li presses for stable food prices

Updated: Nov 08,2019 09:50 PM

Local governments should activate the mechanism that links social assistance with price increases to meet the basic needs of those living in difficulty and allocate subsidies in time, Premier Li Keqiang said at a State Council executive meeting on Nov 6.

The meeting decided on measures to consolidate the agricultural base, ensure the supply of key farm produce and keep prices stable.

The Premier heard a report on current agricultural work, which revealed agricultural production has kept stable this year and grain output is expected to stay above 650 billion kilograms for the fifth straight year. Multiple initiatives introduced for swiftly restoring hog production are well under way, and good progress is being made with key agricultural products. That said, recent price hikes for some products in the “food basket,” which includes meat, aquatic products, eggs, milk, fruits and vegetables, have driven up overall prices and affected people’s daily lives.

The economy running within the appropriate range includes generally stable employment and income increase, and keeping prices stable is vital to maintain macroeconomic stability, the Premier said.

Chinese people's consumption in food and clothes still takes up a large portion of their spending, and food prices usually affect the CPI a lot, the Premier noted. Recent food price increases have had severe effects, especially for those in difficulty.

He asked governments at all levels to attach importance to the work of stabilizing food prices and maintaining sufficient supply.

New methods, which should be should be market-oriented, are encouraged to stabilize the prices, Premier Li said.

The meeting concluded multi-pronged steps were needed to restore hog production by removing unjustifiable farming bans across the country. A bumper harvest of corn in North China will help ensure feed supply for pig farming provinces in South China.

It also decided to increase the production of poultry, beef and mutton, and tap into the food reserves to ensure supply of key farm produce and curb price hikes for certain products.

Premier Li said grain is the lifeline of national security, and called for enhanced efforts to strengthen grain production.

The Premier urged government officials to keep a clear mind on China’s poor agricultural production conditions, with frequent flooding and droughts, and lack of water conservancy facilities.

He called for efforts to ensure grain production this winter and next spring. Related departments should ensure the supply of electricity and agricultural resources as well as transportation, and promote the construction of water conservancy facilities and cultivation of high-standard farmlands.

Other issues decided on at the meeting were the guarantee of sowing work this fall and winter, drought relief in South China, enhanced farmland management of overwintering crops and disaster prevention in farming and stock breeding.

Measures will also be taken to step up construction of water conservancy facilities this winter and next spring, improve farming conditions and ensure overall self-sufficiency of grain supply and absolute food security.

To cultivate high-standard farmland and improve grain production, the meeting also set a goal to develop 1 billion mu (67 million hectares) of such farmland by 2022, with over 500 billion kilograms of production capacity. Stronger support will be given to building farmland through local government bonds and land leasing revenue. Private capital will be encouraged to flow to the projects through diversified channels.

A farming system that can fertilize land while in use will be explored, and an increase of high-standard farmland should also be ensured, it was concluded at the meeting.