China’s soybean production jumps 13% in 2019, boosts crop output

China boosted its soybean production by 13 per cent in 2019 amid a trade war with No. 2 supplier the United States, official data showed on Friday, helping it record a slight rise in total food crop output.

Soybean production jumped to 18.1 million tonnes, the National Bureau of Statistics said, with the area devoted to the oilseed rising 11 per cent after Beijing began offering generous subsidies to farmers to grow the beans, reports Reuters.

Locally grown soybeans are used mainly in food, but are still dwarfed by imports that are crushed into meal to feed the country’s huge livestock herd.

China brought in 70.69 million tonnes of the oilseed in the first 10 months of the year. It has been increasing shipments from its top supplier Brazil at the expense of U.S. growers.

China’s total food crop production for 2019 rose by 0.9 per cent to nearly 664 million tonnes, last week’s data showed.

Beijing has also sought to promote soybeans along with other higher value cash crops such as rapeseed, peanuts and vegetables, while reducing planting of staple grains like corn, wheat and rice due to surplus production of low quality crops.

It is also targeting a reduction of corn and wheat on unsuitable land, such as parts of northern China where groundwater has been overexploited.

The area planted with corn fell 2 per cent on the year, but output increased by 1.4 per cent to 260.77 million tonnes.

Wheat output rose 1.6 per cent to 133.59 million tonnes, and the bureau said more high-quality wheat has been planted nationwide. Rice output fell by 1.2 per cent over the previous year due to a reduction in planting of low-quality and low-efficiency early rice, with many areas moving to planting just one crop per year.

Shekhar Ghosh is consulting editor, Indoasiancommodities.com. He has edited and written for publications like Business India, Business Standard, Business Today, Outlook and many other international publications. He can be reached at shekhar.ghosh@indoasiancommodities.in.

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