(East and West Questions) Zhang Hongyu: How should the most populous countries respond to the global food crisis?

  China News Agency, Beijing, April 12th, Question: How to deal with the global food crisis and the most populous countries?

  ——Interview with Zhang Hongyu, President of China Agricultural Risk Management Research Association and Vice President of China Rural Research Institute of Tsinghua University

  China News Agency reporter Chen Su

  Since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, global food security has been hit hard, and the prices of various agricultural products have hit new highs in more than a decade.

World Food Program officials said recently that the world may face the biggest food crisis since World War II.

How can countries with large populations deal with the challenges of global food security?

Is China's food security affected?

How do China and other countries have different concepts and measures on ensuring food security?

China News Agency "East and West Questions" conducted an exclusive interview with Zhang Hongyu, President of the China Agricultural Risk Management Research Association and Deputy Dean of the China Rural Research Institute of Tsinghua University.

The following is a summary of the interview transcript:

China News Service: How did the conflict between Russia and Ukraine exacerbate the global food crisis, push up global food prices, and what impact will it have on the global food supply situation?

Zhang Hongyu:

Russia and Ukraine are major grain producers and suppliers in the world. According to relevant statistics, Russia and Ukraine supply 19% of the world's barley, 14% of wheat, and 4% of corn, accounting for 19% of the world's grain supply. 25%.

Russia is also an important fertilizer producer and exporter in the world, which affects the price of global production materials.

Photo by Wang Shuangzheng issued by China News Agency

  The COVID-19 pandemic has already severely impacted the global food supply. Since June 2020, global food prices have continued to fluctuate and rise, reaching an all-time high in February 2022.

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has further impacted the global food market, which is conductive, amplified and catastrophic. It has an impact on the food supply chain, has a transmission effect, and pushed up global food prices.

The food crisis brought on by the conflict has made some poor countries "worse" and exacerbated the global hunger crisis.

Food is the foundation of economic and social development. Problems in food supply will affect and transmit to more levels, which will have a negative impact on the global economic and political situation.

China News Service: According to a report released by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), due to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, international food and feed prices may rise by as much as 22%, and lead to a surge in the number of malnourished people in low-developed countries.

According to your observations, which countries' food security is most threatened by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict?

How should we respond?

Zhang Hongyu:

There are currently 700 million or 800 million people in the world who are hungry or semi-starved. They are mainly concentrated in countries in the southern hemisphere such as Africa. These countries have limited natural resources, low economic development levels, backward agricultural science and technology, inherent shortage of agricultural production capacity, and serious imbalance between supply and demand.

  The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has exacerbated the rise in food prices, and coupled with the weakening of transportation capacity caused by rising energy costs, the food purchasing power of low-income countries and low-income groups will drop sharply, exacerbating the global hunger and poverty crisis.

In the face of the unpredictable international environment, the increase of food reserves in various countries will also exacerbate the imbalance of global food supply.

  Faced with this situation, efforts should be made to solve the problem of imbalanced global grain productivity and supply, help some underdeveloped countries improve their agricultural science and technology levels, increase their agricultural output capacity, and work together to address challenges and smooth grain trade.

China News Service: Recently, the prices of wheat, soybeans, and corn in China have also risen. What is the food security situation in China?

Zhang Hongyu:

China's grain production is stable and the supply is sufficient to meet consumption.

It can be said that the Chinese people's food problem is completely solved by themselves, and "the food ration is absolutely safe" has enough confidence.

In 2021, China's grain harvest is 683 million tons, a year-on-year increase of 2%, and the absolute demand for grain with population growth has greatly weakened.

In the provincial modern agricultural industrial park in Hushu Street, Jiangning District, Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province, workers drive agricultural machinery to harvest wheat in the field.

(drone photo).

Photo by China News Agency reporter Yang Bo

  Affected by the epidemic and the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, domestic prices of wheat, soybeans, and corn have fluctuated and adjusted recently. However, from an overall perspective, China's food prices are within control. The prices of different varieties and regions of food are not ups and downs, but this trend. his long state.

  It should also be noted that China's entire resource-based agricultural products (crops mainly relying on cultivated land) are increasingly dependent on foreign countries.

Last year, China's grain imports reached an all-time high of 162 million tons, the largest of which was soybeans. Including soybeans, China's foreign grain dependence rate has reached 19%.

The foreign dependence of meat also reached 9%.

  To strengthen bottom-line thinking.

Under the new situation, the concept of food security should be changed from "ration security" to "food security", and high attention should be paid to the self-sufficiency rate of resource-based agricultural products to ensure that the self-sufficiency rate of all food does not decline.

China News Agency reporter: As a country with a large population, China's per capita food possession is stable at more than 470 kilograms, which is much higher than the international food safety line of 400 kilograms.

What food security concepts and measures does China take to ensure food security?

Zhang Hongyu:

China has been a big farming country since ancient times, and has always regarded food security as the cornerstone of economic and social development. Concepts such as "agriculture-oriented", "food security for the world", and "food saving" all reflect this feature.

Farmers sow wheat.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Tong Yu

  China's concept of food security has its own personality, and it also has something in common with other big countries, that is, "it cannot be controlled by others when it comes to eating."

The truly powerful countries in the world have the ability to solve their own food problems. For example, the United States is the world's largest grain exporter and the strongest agricultural country. Russia, Canada and the European Union are big countries, and they are also food powerhouses.

  At present, China, as the world's most populous country, although the population growth rate has slowed down, with the improvement of residents' living standards, the upgrading of food demand structure, and the acceleration of urbanization, the demand for meat and high-quality food continues to increase, and agricultural production costs constantly improving.

The Chinese government has placed food security in a more prominent position, and regards food security as a bottom-line task and a top priority.

China News Service: Facing the volatile global food prices in recent years and the recent conflict between Russia and Ukraine, how does China stabilize its own rice bowl?

Zhang Hongyu:

The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has a huge impact on the global food supply, and it has also sounded the alarm for China.

Faced with the severe situation, China held the Central Economic Work Conference last year and proposed "to correctly understand and grasp the supply of primary products", placing survival and safety in a more prominent position.

  At present, the epidemic situation is still ongoing, the global economy is turbulent, and the external environment is becoming more complex. China should adhere to the food security concept of "self-centered", China's resources to solve China's problems, China's supply to solve China's demand problems, and make a fuss from six aspects.

  One is resources.

Focus on the quantity, quality and potential of arable land resources.

The red line of 1.8 billion mu of arable land must be worthy of its name, speed up the construction of high-standard farmland, strengthen the protection of black land in Northeast China, and implement saline-alkali land transformation.

  The second is the system.

Adhere to the rural household contract responsibility system, promote the scale of grain production, and further put into practice the "separation of land rights".

  The third is technology.

It is necessary to take the yield per unit of corn and soybeans as a breakthrough, promote the revitalization of the seed industry through biotechnology, increase the self-sufficiency rate of soybeans, and ensure stable and high yields of corn.

Promote the development of equipment technology and agricultural machinery, and develop agricultural green technology.

Sanjiang Branch was established in Beidahuang Agricultural Reclamation Group Co., Ltd., the "Green Rice Capital of China", and the unmanned rice transplanter automatically transplants rice in the paddy fields.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Zhang Xinglong

  The fourth is policy.

It is necessary to provide farmers with reasonable income, subsidies, and price policies to make up for the losses caused by rising prices of means of production, and priority should be given to financial security and financial priorities to promote innovation in agricultural insurance.

  The fifth is the way of operation.

Through cooperatives, family farms, and agricultural enterprises, the scale, regionalization and intensification of food production will be promoted.

  Six is ​​the trade pattern.

No matter how the international situation changes, China must persist in opening up to the outside world, keep pace with the times, reform trade methods, cultivate world-leading agricultural enterprises, and improve international competitiveness.


Interviewee Profile:

  Zhang Hongyu, male, born in 1958, is a native of Shifang City, Sichuan Province.

Doctor of Management, President of China Agricultural Risk Management Research Association, Vice President of China Rural Research Institute of Tsinghua University, Distinguished Expert of the National Political Consultative Conference Talent Pool, Member of the Central Agricultural Office and the Rural Revitalization Expert Committee of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, China Economic and Social Council Director, Director of the New Rural Development Research Institute of Peking University, former Director of the Rural Economic System and Management Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Participated in the drafting of the Central No. 1 document and important central documents for many times.

He has presided over many major research projects such as the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank and other international organizations and the National Social Science Fund.

Published several personal monographs.