March 7, 2020 

China will hit 2020 grain targets unaffected by COVID-19


China's agriculture officials said the country will achieve its grain targets in 2020 in spite of the COVID-19 outbreak, with swine herd recovery progressing, reported Reuters.


Pan Wenbo, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs director of planting administration said spring is the usual time for China's grain area to be planted, but transport restrictions imposed due to COVID-19 has halted planting.


Zhang Yangqiu, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs seed management bureau director said Hubei province is the worst affected, with the ministry arranging for extra supplies to be distributed to farmers in the area.


The province is a the epicentre of the global COVID-19 outbreak and a major rice region in China. Farmers are facing lack of supplies like fertiliser due to the restrictions.


Zhang said fertiliser producers in China are operating at higher than 60% capacity.


Pan said planting progress in China is similar to normal years, which means China will reach its grain targets this year. He added that local government officials will have spring planting as part of their key performance indicators.


State reserves will also pay more for rice, spurring farmers to grow more grain.


China has urged farmers to plant two crops of rice annually, but the trend is dropping due to rising costs. Pan said this trend must not continue, with rice production stabilized to safeguard rations.


Yang Zhengai, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs animal husbandry department representative said the movement restrictions imposed because of COVID-19 has left animal health departments short staffed, but added that this year's avian influenza situation was stable.


Yang said swine production will gradually resume to pre-African swine fever years.


-  Reuters