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China's agriculture minister says food security guaranteed after quake (06/05/08)

Special report: Reconstruction After Earthquake

A farmer harvests wheat in the Hailing District of Taizhou, east China's Jiangsu Province, June 3, 2008. The harvest season for nearly 19,000 hectares of wheat in Taizhou started on June 3. (Xinhua/Luo Zhongming)
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    ROME, June 4 (Xinhua) -- Food security in China is guaranteed despite the recent major earthquake and heavy snowfalls earlier this year, China's Agriculture Minister Sun Zhengcai said in an interview with Xinhua.

    "The earthquake will not change the nation-wide situation of agricultural production this year since local output of the affected area is quite small compared to that of the whole country," Sun said, who was attending a world summit here on soaring food prices, hosted by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

    An 8.0-magnitude earthquake hit southwestern China in May, with its epicenter in Wenchuan County, a mountainous area of Sichuan province, with the death toll currently at over 70,000 people and causing massive economic loss.

    Sun acknowledged local agricultural production was in no way immune from damage.

    "The damage was mainly to planted crops and livestock," he said, adding an urgent harvesting and planting effort has helped minimize the impact and which had no national implications.

    The devastating earthquake struck following severe snow and ice storms that swept southern China early this year, giving rise to concerns about food shortages in the world's most populous country.

    However, Sun said food security remains guaranteed because of sufficient stockpiles and a big harvest ahead.

    "This year, China's agriculture has prevailed over disasters of snow and ice storms and the extremely severe earthquake, and our summer grains and oilseeds are set to harvest good crops," he said.

    Since 2004, food production in China has increased for four consecutive years and the total grain output exceeded 500 million tons last year.

    Sun said China's grain reserves are currently abundant and there is enough supply of major farm products to offset the effects of the two natural disasters.

    If there are no more major disasters, China is expected to have a big summer harvest this year, with grain output set to rise for the fifth consecutive year. Even in southern China, oilseeds, which had been feared to drop due to the snowfalls, would reverse the declining trend in the previous three years.

    Sun said as a huge, developing country with 1.3 billion people, China has always paid great attention to food and agricultural development.

    The Chinese government will continue to adhere to the food security policy of basic self-sufficiency, complemented by imports and exports to readjust surplus and shortfalls, he said.

Editor: Bi Mingxin

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