China's top legislature on Dec. 29, 2023 adopted a food security law aimed at ensuring the supply of grain and related products.
For a country that feeds over 1.4 billion people with only 9 percent of the world's arable land, the enactment of this law is of vital importance.
Despite an overall favorable situation concerning food security, China, with a growing grain demand, faces multifaceted challenges, including limited and low-quality arable land and increasing difficulty in securing stable and higher grain output. Therefore, the law is of great significance in addressing these issues, according to an explanation for the drafting of the law delivered by Minister of Justice He Rong.
As stipulated in the general provisions of the law, China needs to "ensure absolute security in staple foods and basic self-sufficiency in grains," indicating that the country must ensure that its food supply remains firmly in its own hands.
The law, passed at a session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, will take effect on June 1, 2024.
Recognizing the importance of arable land protection, the law provides for determining and maintaining redlines to protect farmland, permanent basic cropland and ecosystems, as well as urban development boundaries.
The state shall restrict the occupation of farmland and the conversion of farmland to other forms of land use, such as forests and grassland, the law reads.
Regarding grain production, the law emphasizes the establishment of a national agricultural germplasm resource bank and improvement of the national system for cultivating superior crop varieties.
The law calls for promoting mechanized technologies and building capacity for disaster prevention, mitigation, and relief in grain production.
To encourage farmers to grow crops, the law stipulates that the state shall introduce measures to increase the income of such farmers.
China has seen a grain harvest of over 650 million tonnes for nine consecutive years, with the staple food self-sufficiency rate above 100 percent and the grain self-sufficiency rate above 95 percent.
However, China's grain supply and demand is still characterized by a "tight balance," hence the need to curb food waste to guarantee food security in the country.
The law contains a chapter dedicated to food conservation, laying down requirements for reducing food waste throughout various processes, ranging from grain production to consumption.
The law also makes provisions concerning grain reserves, distribution, processing and emergency response.
The food security law, along with existing laws on land management, seeds, black soil conservation, food waste and others, will cement the foundation of food security in the country.
The new legislation on food security is of great importance to pushing forward Chinese modernization. It lays a solid legal foundation for advancing China's system and capacity for food security governance, said Wang Zhimin, a member of the NPC Standing Committee.