November 8, 2011
China will likely become the world's largest importer of agricultural products within five to 10 years due to limited arable land and "relatively weak" agricultural technologies, said a researcher with the Development Research Centre of the State Council.
Cheng Guoqiang, speaking at the Beijing Forum, said that China's per-capita farm land is less than 40% of the world's average.
China is now the world's largest importer of soy and cotton, a major importer of sugar and it is becoming a key player in global corn trade as incomes increase and people incorporate more meat into their diets.
Soy imports started to soar shortly after China joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001 and reached a record 54.8 million tonnes, or around 80% of domestic consumption, last year.
China became a net importer of corn, used mainly in animal feed, last year after 14 years of self-sufficiency. Imports are expected to reach five million tonnes in the marketing year that started October 1, according to the China National Grain and Oils Information Centre.