April 17, 2012
China's 2012 corn land to grow by 2.7%
The 2012 corn acre of China is seen to increase 2.7% on-year to reach 35 million hectares, boosted by record local prices and Beijing's subsidies, based on an agriculture ministry survey.
A bumper corn harvest could boost supplies in the world's second largest consumer of the grain, whose production growth has fallen short of rising demand over the past three years, turning China into a net importer of corn since 2009.
"Supply of corn seeds in parts of northeast provinces has begun to fall short of demand because farmers have shown strong interest in planting corn," the ministry said after a survey of 500 counties in a report carried on an industry website (www.chinagrain.cn).
The survey data was in line with an earlier Reuters' report based on comments by farmers and analysts.
Acreage under soybean is likely to fall 11.2% this year as many farmers in the northeast provinces of Heilongjiang and Inner Mongolia have shifted to growing corn instead of soy, although wheat acreage would stay steady, the report said.
The ministry has not published the survey on its website (www.moa.gov.cn).
Lower soy output in China, the world's top soy importer, will drive the country to import, since domestic soy is used mainly to make food, such as tofu. Almost all Chinese crushers depend on soy imports for processing into soymeal, a feed ingredient in demand by the livestock industry.
A survey by the National Bureau of Statistics also expected an increase in corn acreage, but the bureau gave no figures.
Acreage under cotton, of which China is the largest consumer and importer, may fall 4% this year from last year, the bureau said, as low returns have spurred Chinese farmers to cut cotton acreage. The China Cotton Association has said it expects acreage to fall by 16.7%.
Domestic prices of cotton fell nearly 40% from a record high in early 2011 due to weak demand from the domestic textile industry.
Although domestic prices after September have stabilized thanks to Beijing's stockpiling, rising labour costs have eaten into the profits to be made from growing the fibre.