There are several problems of plenty that China is battling with, but the one it might be finding really difficult to deal with is finding ways to store the millions of tonnes of extra grains it has bought from farmers.
According to Chinese media, the country is facing an unprecedented problem storing grains as the government continues with a subsidy programme that sees farmers sell it large chunks of their production every year.
The government has taken in nearly 240 million tons of grain products from China’s growers since the fall of 2015, said Ren Zhengxiao, the head of State Administration of Grain said recently, adding that it was 18 percent more than in the same period a year earlier.
On top of this, Ren said, official warehouses will have to accommodate another 80 million tons of grain this summer. “We face an unprecedented problem as a result of a shortage in grain storage facilities and the need for authorities to purchase more,” he told an online news conference last week.
Since 2005 the central government has promised growers it would buy their harvests at above-market prices in a bid to ensure the country of 1.37 billion people had enough to eat, Caixin Online said, adding that this has led to a shortage in storage facilities over the last 12 years.
China’s farmers produced just over 620 million tons of grain last year, 2.4 percent more than in 2014, official data show. Meanwhile, imports soared by more than 27 percent to 113 million tons from January to November, customs statistics show, according to Caixin.
The central government has said that imports are still needed to provide the grains the country’s farmers do not grow, but Ren said China direly needed to build new warehouses and upgrade existing ones. One-sixth of grain reserves are held in makeshift facilities, he said, leaving them exposed to fire and waste risks.