Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Technology Feeds China

Enhancing the development of agricultural science& technology is the major focus of China's first central document of 2012. The document reveals that China will accelerate the reform of agricultural science&technology system and enhance the innovation of agricultural science&technology, aiming to safeguard food security in China, according to CCM’s January issue of AgriChina Investor.

The first central document of the year, also known as the "No. 1 Document", is issued annually by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, the Cabinet.

Before the release of the "No. 1 Document", the Ministry of Agriculture had issued the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) on Agricultural Science&Technology (the Plan) in late Dec. 2011. "The Plan" serves as the guideline for China's agricultural development in the next five years. According to the Plan, the major tasks in the coming years include innovation of the seed industry, transformation of achievements in scientific research, etc.

"The fund needed will be guaranteed. In the next ten years, China will invest over USD 475 billion (RMB 3 trillion) in agricultural science& technology." said an insider from the Ministry of Agriculture.

The aims of the "No. 1 Document" and "the Plan" are to safeguard domestic food security. China's grain output hit 571.21 million tonnes in 2011, up 24.73 million tonnes, or 4.5% over 2010, representing the eighth consecutive year for increased grain production, as shown in the figures from the National Bureau of Statistics of China. However, China faces heavy task for food security because of the decrease of farmland and the soaring food demand.

Statistics show that China's cultivated land decreased from 130 million ha. in 1995 to 121 million ha. in 2010.

With the limited sources, the effective way to safeguard domestic food security is to increase the per unit area yield through the investment in agricultural science& technology, especially in seed innovation.

China's grain per unit area yield has witnessed big increase in the past decades due to the application of improved seeds and the input of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. However, the grain per unit area yield is still very low compared with those in some developed countries. There is still big room for the increase of grain per unit area yield.

There is a saying in China, "Agriculture feeds the nation, and seed feeds agriculture". It is believed that the application of improved seed varieties is the best way to increase grain per unit area yield. Actually, before the "No. 1 Document" of 2012, China has already paid close attention to the seed industry and issued a series of policies in 2011.

On 18 April 2011, the State Council released the formal "Suggestions for Accelerating Development of Modern Crop Seed Industry" (the Suggestions) to enhance the development of domestic seed industry.

According to the Suggestions, research institutes and universities should focus on the basic researches in the future, such as the collection and conservation of crop germplasms, the breeding theory, the GM technology, etc. It also encourages the cooperation between research institutes and seed companies, and research institutes should share their germplasm resources and research achievements with seed companies.

At present, most of the crop varieties in China are developed by research institutes or universities. Most seed companies pay little attention to the breeding of new varieties. They usually try to buy variety patents from research institutes or universities, which is not good for the long-term development of seed companies. The Suggestions shows the intention of Chinese government to change this status.

As for GM crops, although there is much controversy over the commercialization of GM crops (China issued biosafety certificates for GM rice and GM corn in late 2009, but no staple crop has achieved commercialization yet), Chinese government attaches importance to GM technology and has invested a lot of funds in the development of GM technology.

At present, GM crops are mostly insect-resistant and herbicide-tolerant. It is expected that China will also focus on GM crops with high yield and quality. "China should enhance the development of GM crops, such as GM corn, to ease domestic supply pressure," according to an insider from the Ministry of Agriculture recently.

Besides the development of seed industry, "No. 1 Document" and "the Plan" also pay attention to the mechanization of agriculture. "The Plan" reveals that mechanization farming of major grain crops in China should increase to 60% by the end of 2015 from about 52% at present.

Chinese government has been continuing the trend which started from 2004 of tackling rural problems in its first annual document, and the first document of 2011 focused on water infrastructure construction.

Source: AgriChina Investor

Content of AgriChina Investor 1201:
New Catalogue for the Guidance of Foreign Investment Industries to come into force
Technology feeds China
Government strengthens establishment of circulation system of fresh agricultural produces
Ministry of Agriculture to focus on development of livestock & poultry breeding
China's urbanization rate exceeds 50% in 2011
China to encourage agricultural insurance businesses
Central Rural Work Conference to promote 2012 agricultural development
China resumes beef import from Argentina

AgriChina Investor, periodically published on 25th every month, offers timely update and close follow up of agriculture investment in China, analyzing market data and trends, as well as related policies. Major columns include investment environment, investment dynamics, market watcher, market review etc.

If you are interested in AgriChina Investor, please do not hesitate to contact us by +86-20-37616606, or email us at

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