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Coronavirus lockdown prevents Chinese farmers from planting corn

Further evidence of a looming food crisis in China emerged in the agricultural province of Jilin on Tuesday, as farmers said coronavirus lockdowns had prevented them from planting maize.

the South China Morning Post (SCMP) quoted farmers in Jilin who said their fields had been neglected for so long that sowing in time for the next harvest had become “impossible”.

“Now no one is allowed to go out and the agricultural shops have no seeds or fertilizers. Even if they did, the farmers cannot go out to buy,” a farmer complained. .

Analysts noted road traffic to Jilin was down nearly 87% from a year ago, suggesting that necessary equipment and supplies may not be available when the planting season begins in late April. . The province normally supplies about 10% of Chinese maize.

the SCMP noted that Chinese officials acknowledge the problem but insist there is still time to salvage the season:

Chinese Vice Premier Hu Chunhua said on Friday that corn demand is exceeding supply in China at the moment and the country should work together to increase production from last year.

Rural pandemic prevention should be coordinated with agricultural production to ensure crops are sown without delay and spring plowing is completed, Hu said.

Jilin authorities issued a statement on Monday saying that farmers locked down in urban areas can return to their hometowns to work from Tuesday, provided they meet certain conditions, including a negative coronavirus test and no close contact. with an infected person.

China’s Communist Party has spent the last year touting ‘food security’ and independence as priority goals, with record domestic corn production Reserve Last year. However, thanks to coronavirus shutdowns and market disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China is now import more corn than ever, including American corn. Industry analysts believe China’s recent huge purchases of agricultural products could be a tacit recognition of a coming domestic food crisis.

In addition to lockdowns physically preventing farmers from preparing for the vital spring planting season, China is joining the rest of the world in preparing for a shortage of chemical fertilizers because of the war in Ukraine. China gets about half of its potassium from Russia and Belarus.

“It will definitely have an impact. If the fertilizer and grain trade is interrupted, how can we do the work of the fields in the spring? How can we hold the rice bowls of our 1.4 billion people in our hands? There will be a lot of problems,” Chinese economic policy director Xu Hongcai said in March when fertilizer exports from Russia and Ukraine began to slow or come to a complete halt.

the FinancialTimes Wednesday cited official data that “up to a third of farmers in the northeastern provinces of Jilin, Liaoning and Heilongjiang do not have enough agricultural inputs after authorities cordoned off villages to combat the pandemic”.

The closures in these three provinces could jeopardize up to 20% of China’s grain production. A government adviser in Beijing has admitted that China could “face food shortages” in the coming year.

“We need to adjust the zero Covid policy for agriculture. We shouldn’t prioritize virus control over everything else. This can’t go on forever,” the adviser told the Financial Times.

In addition to supply shortages, farmers have noted that the closures prevent migrant workers from reaching agricultural countries in time for the planting season. Drivers who could transport both supplies and workers say they are afraid to enter lockdown areas because they might not be allowed to leave.

Chinese officials could bet they have enough inventory to sustain a failed planting season and subsequent poor harvest. China is known among agricultural experts for storage gigantic amounts of food, sometimes prompting complaints from other countries that Chinese hoarding is creating global shortages and driving up prices.

Breitbart News

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