This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Will China Feed Itself? Not This Year

Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute has been worrying for a long time about the ability of China to feed itself. A few months ago, I noted that Chinese officials were pushing back on that idea. However, a report surfaced today that, despite a bumper corn crop this year, China will still be importing corn this year.

China is harvesting a record-large corn crop, but it's also likely to be in the market to import 5 million to 10 million metric tons of corn by the end of 2012, according to the U.S. Grains Council.
That projection for the next 15 months compares with USDA's estimate that China will import 2 million metric tons of corn in the current marketing year. USDA estimated China's imports in each of the past two years at 1.3 million metric tons, or more than 51 million bushels.
At the same time, it is clear that China has the potential to increase output by improving the "means of production:"
Don Hutchens, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board, noted that 60% to 80% of China's corn is harvested by hand.
There is also evidence that production per acre has been stagnant for the past several years, partly because Chinese farmers continue to use older hybrid seeds. Thus, there seems to be the possibility that corn production could increase in China, but so far it is lagging behind demand.

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