China’s summer grain yields dropped by more than 3 million tons this year compared with 2017, representing a significant decrease in production, at a time when Beijing aims to reduce its reliance on imports from the United States.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBS), total nationwide grain production in summer 2018 was 138.72 million tons, representing a net decrease of 3.06 million tons, or 2.2 percent, from 2017, the Epoch Times reports. The production of summer grain per unit area was 5,194.9 kilograms (about 11,500 pounds) per hectare, or a reduction of 1.6 percent when compared with 2017.
According to the official website of the State Grain and Material Reserve Bureau, as of Sept. 25, the total harvest of wheat in principal agricultural regions was 48.139 million tons, a year-on-year decline of 22.406 million tons, or almost 47 percent. In primary production areas, the long-grained rice harvest was 7.689 million tons, a year-on-year decrease of 1.155 million tons, or 15 percent. For rapeseed, the total was 1.104 million tons, a year-on-year decline of 137,000 tons.
China is a major food importer. Even in ideal circumstances, its domestic food production falls far short of meeting demand. China’s General Administration of Customs announced at the beginning of this year that China imported a total of 130.62 million tons of grain in 2017, an increase of 13.9 percent since 2016 and a record high. Among them, total imports of soybeans were 95.53 million tons, net imports of rice stood at 4.03 million tons, wheat at 4.42 million tons, and corn at 2.83 million tons. Meanwhile, in the same year, Chinese grain exports totaled 2.8 million tons.
According to the World Bank, China’s total grain demand will reach 670 million tons in 2020 and 700 million tons in 2030. Even if China can maintain its historical peak harvest of 620 million tons, it will still encounter grain shortages. The decreases in production bode ill for China, who are in a long-term trade conflict with the United States, one of China’s biggest economic partners.