China plans to boost its soybean production capability and also seek a high volume of imports to meet the country’s domestic demand, agriculture and rural affairs officials said on Feb 20.
The country will step up efforts to expand cultivation of soybeans, accelerate research on nurturing high-yield crops and improve management of soybean production as part of its plan to revitalize the industry, according to Wu Hongyao, a senior official with the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group.
“Farmers in Northeast China and in regions around the Bohai Sea are encouraged to, and guided to, increase farmland for soybean cultivation,” he said at a news conference of the State Council Information Office.
Wu added that coordinated efforts will be devoted to cultivate high-quality soybean crops, and new enterprises and industry coalitions will be established to improve the production and sales of the industry.
The plan for soybean revitalization was first released by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs in January to solicit public opinion. On the evening of Feb 19, it was also included in the first policy document of 2019 released by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council. The document is seen as an indicator of policy priorities.
In the document, the plan for raising soybean production is framed as part of the country’s efforts to deepen supply-side structural reform in the agriculture sector.
Wu said China requires a total of some 110 million metric tons of soybeans every year, but on average, 90 percent are imported from overseas because of limited domestic output of about 16 million tons annually.
Han Changfu, minister of agriculture and rural affairs, said the dominance of imports won’t be affected by the latest plan to increase domestic soybean output.
“We are bound to participate in the global soybean trade and seek varied sources that can conduct transactions,” he said.
For years, the United States has contributed one-third of the total soybeans arriving in China from overseas. Despite recent trade disputes that led to cutbacks in soybean imports from the US, Han said China still opens its door to US products.
“We intend to keep pushing a mechanism of diversified import sources, and China and the US are set to see partnerships in regard to soybeans,” he said.
Wu also stressed the need for the country to open the door wider to global markets and utilize both domestic and overseas production to safeguard its soybean supply.