【英语中国】中国放弃坚持谷物自给 Beijing abandons own grain stance

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所属分类:双语中国

2014-2-13 08:44

小艾摘要: China has given up one of its most sacred tenets and in effect abandoned its policy of being self-sufficient in grain as its population outpaces the ability to grow its own food.Beijing has increasing ...
Beijing abandons own grain stance
China has given up one of its most sacred tenets and in effect abandoned its policy of being self-sufficient in grain as its population outpaces the ability to grow its own food.

Beijing has increasingly imported grains and food but has maintained an ideological emphasis on producing as much domestically as possible. For the first time, however, it has set a grains output target well below domestic consumption rates, implying a move away from that ideological commitment to producing all the grains it needs – central to Communist party thinking for decades.

The new policy stance, included in guidelines issued this week by the state council, or cabinet, instead placed a greater emphasis on the quality, rather than just the quantity, of what is produced.

The guidelines call for grain production to “stabilise” at roughly 550m tonnes by 2020, below the 2013 harvest of 602m tonnes. “While putting emphasis on food quantity, pay more attention to food safety and quality,” the document said, in a shift in tone and emphasis.

A more liberal grains import policy was floated as a reform that might be adopted by President Xi Jinping even before he became head of the Communist party in 2012.

Under the new rules the country will prioritise the supply and quality of meat, vegetables and fruits, all of which require less land than bulk grains and create more agricultural jobs. That in turn should lead to increased imports from countries with sufficient space to grow grain – including the US, Australia, Canada and Ukraine, a recently favoured destination for Chinese agricultural investment.

China has long held to the principle of grains self-sufficiency – a term included in the latest blueprint – but the meaning of that tenet has already shifted considerably.

Soyabeans, which the country imports in bulk, have not been included in self-sufficiency calculations for some time, and agricultural policy debates for several years have revolved around the question of whether “80 per cent self-sufficient” is as good as “95 per cent self-sufficient”. China became a net food importer in 2004.

“It is clear that the policy has shifted towards food grains such as rice and wheat rather than feed grains. There’s a clear problem maintaining volumes of feed grains, such as corn or soybeans,” said Wang Jimin, of the Rural Economic and Development Institute at the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

Supplying grain has been a priority for the Communist party, which built its power base in a Chinese countryside wracked by famine in the 1930s and 1940s. Ironically, the emphasis on grain production in the first three decades of Communist rule often resulted in food shortages – for instance, grain production quotas resulted in low-yield rice being planted in unsuitable fields; lowland crops replaced highland barley, the staple of the Tibetan plateau; and production of vegetables, cooking oil and other necessary food got short shrift.

An estimated 30m people starved to death during the height of collectivisation in the late 1950s, when local communes exaggerated grain yields to meet Mao Zedong’s inflated targets.

Restoring planting decisions to family farmers and market reforms beginning in 1978 have improved supply of all foods, including fruits, vegetables and meat, across China.

Average food consumption has risen in a generation from levels barely sufficient for human survival to levels that rival the developed world in urban areas, although meat is still a treat for the rural poor.

“Now the cities are full of little fatties, but in the countryside there are children who are malnourished,” said Mr Wang.

Even in recent years, government policy continued to support grains production in spite of warnings from reformists that land would be better used for less thirsty crops. But rising Chinese meat consumption changed the equation, due to the amount of grains needed to feed livestock.

中国放弃了其最神圣的信条之一,实际上摒弃了粮食自给自足的政策,原因是中国人口增加速度超出了自给自足所需的种植能力。

近年中国进口的谷物和食品越来越多,但迄今一直保持着尽可能提高国内农业产量的指导思想。不过,现在中国首次将粮食产量目标设定在远低于国内消费量的水平,这意味着北京方面摆脱了粮食完全自给自足的意识形态承诺——几十年来,这个承诺在共产党的思维中一直占据中心地位。

新的政策立场,包含在国务院本周发布的指导文件中,它在更大程度上强调农业生产的质量,而不仅仅是数量。

《中国食物与营养发展纲要(2014—2020年)》要求到2020年全国粮食产量稳定在5.5亿吨以上,低于2013年6.02亿吨的粮食产量。“在重视食物数量的同时,更加注重品质和质量安全,”《纲要》表示。这显示中国农业政策的语气和重点有所转变。

在2012年习近平出任中共中央总书记之前,就有人提出他可能实施的一项改革将是采取更为自由的谷物进口政策。

根据新的规则,中国将优先鼓励肉类、蔬菜和水果的供应,并注重其质量,这些农产品需要的土地少于散装谷物,又能创造更多就业机会。这进而应当导致中国从那些有足够耕地面积种植谷物的国家增加进口,包括美国、澳大利亚、加拿大和乌克兰。乌克兰是近年中国青睐的农业投资目的地。

中国长期坚持粮食自给自足的原则。《纲要》作为最新的蓝图也提到“谷物基本自给、口粮绝对安全”,但这一信条的内涵已发生很大变化。

中国大量进口的大豆已经有好几年未被列入粮食自给的计算范围了,同时近年农业政策辩论的焦点是:“80%的粮食自给率”是否与“95%的粮食自给率”一样好?中国在2004年成为粮食净进口国。

“显然政策已转向大米和小麦等食用谷物,而非饲料谷物。在保持饲料谷物(如玉米或大豆)的产量方面存在明显的问题,”中国农业科学院(Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences)农业经济与发展研究所(Rural Economic and Development Institute)的王济民表示。

保障粮食供应一直是共产党的工作重点,其权力基础就是在上世纪三、四十年代饥荒肆虐的农村地区建立起来的。具有讽刺意味的是,在共产党执政的前30年期间,对粮食生产的注重往往造成食物短缺——例如谷物生产配额导致低产水稻被种植在不适合的田里;用低海拔地区的作物取代青藏高原的主要作物青稞;以及蔬菜、食用油和其他必要食品的生产受到忽视。

在上世纪50年代末集体化高峰时期,据估计有3000万人饿死。当时的人民公社夸大粮食收成,以满足毛泽东提出的不切实际的目标。

将种植决定权交还给农户以及1978年启动的市场改革改善了中国各地各类食品的供应,包括水果、蔬菜和肉类。

在一代人期间,中国城市地区的人均食品消费从勉强维持生存水平升至媲美发达国家的水平,尽管肉类对农村地区的穷人来说仍是偶尔享用的美味。

“现在城市里好多小胖子,但在农村仍有孩子营养不良,”王济民表示。

即使在最近几年,政府政策仍继续支持粮食生产,尽管改革派人士警告称,耕地最好用于种植灌溉需求不那么大的作物。但中国肉类消费量的增加改变了整个局面,因为饲养牲畜所需的饲料量实在太大。

译者/和风

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