According to reports from the Chinese government, within the next five to ten years, China will become the world’s largest importer of agricultural products. A report by Cheng Guoqiang, a researcher with China’s State Council’s Development Research Center outlined this upcoming trade imbalance. While the report was vague on the details of China’s upcoming production gaps, the situation is not entirely unexpected. China is currently the world’s largest importer of soy and cotton.
Chinese agricultural production faces a number of hurdles that prevent complete self-sufficiency. Most importantly, Chinese farmers enjoy a relatively small production base. China’s per-capita acreage is less than 40 percent of world averages.
In addition to land shortages (which are exacerbated by high population density), China is struggling with obsolete infrastructure and limited scientific and technological support.
Another factor exacerbating China’s agricultural trade deficit is the rapid growth of the Chinese middle class. China’s rapid development has drastically altered traditional eating habits, leading to increased consumption of meat products (which require increased feed crops). The increase in Chinese consumption of meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy are monopolizing China’s farm production and fueling China’s increased agricultural imports.
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Written by: Justin Ellison / Farm Plus Staff Writer