China has made considerable strides in increasing food access and security across the country. Decades of economic growth have enabled China’s leaders to make large improvements to the country’s food supply.
Over the past two decades, China’s urban population growth has been higher than in the rest Asia or the world as a whole. Young people are migrating to cities, leaving the elderly and children back home on the farm. So as manufacturing and urban life took off, catapulting China to world-power status, rural China and farming lagged behind. Roughly 86% of farms in China were only 1.6 acres, a tiny fraction of the size of the average 441-acre US industrialized farm and most of the work on these small farms is done by hand by an increasingly elderly population of farmers who now average over 50 years old. But that is starting to change.
Until recently, China had largely fed itself. Yet now the tables have turned, transforming China into the largest food importer in the world. Changing food consumption patterns in China have seen increasing demand for foreign consumer food brands outpaced by even faster growth in demand for imported agricultural products and feed stocks. This has happened despite a continuing stated policy goal of food self-sufficiency. The result has been an evolution in land use within China, greater integration of Chinese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in global wholesale markets and a subtle shift of emphasis away from self-sufficiency within China, towards prioritizing the security of the Chinese supply chain.
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You are invited to download the December issue of CKGSB Magazine. You’ll enjoy articles and interviews like: COVER STORY: 3D printing: Prophets of doom say 3D printing will overturn manufacturing in China. They’re both right and wrong. CHINA INSIGHT: All in the Genes: In just about 14 years of its existence, BGI-Shenzhen has become the world’s […]