Top agricultural policy document calls for expansion of domestic oil crops, again

Every year since 1982, the Central Committee of the CCP and the State Council have dedicated their first joint policy document of the year to the country’s agrarian work, with the publication colloquially dubbed the “No.1 Document”. This past Tuesday saw the release of this year’s edition.
Last year’s document marked a “historic shift” from a focus on poverty alleviation to rural revitalisation and agricultural modernisation. This year’s follow-up is a continuation of this trend, but with key differences.
Unlike the triumphant tone of last year’s document – which opened with a narrative of achievements in agrarian work during the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2015-2020), including the ending of extreme poverty – this year’s edition opens by stating that the persistence of the pandemic, a weak recovery of the world economy and “severe challenges from climate change” are the main challenges to the country’s economic and social development. For these reasons, it draws two “bottom-lines”: securing food security and avoiding the return to poverty of “populations of scale”. 
To ensure food security, it again emphasises the importance of safeguarding the total area of domestic arable land, of stabilising subsidies for maize and soybean production, and raising the state’s minimum procurement price for rice and wheat.
Particularly noteworthy is the document’s call to expand the output of soybean and other oil crops “with measurable results”. To achieve this, it calls for a “structural adjustment” to the country’s cultivation of grains, through the promotion of crop rotation between soy and maize in the Northeast region and intercropping in other key regions, including the Yellow and Huai river basins; through the replacement of rice paddies with soybean in areas facing groundwater overdraw; and by developing demonstration projects of soybean growth on saline-alkali soil. Rapeseed and oil tea (Camellia oleifera) are also listed as potential areas of development.
China imports 80% of its edible oils and fats. To lower the reliance on imports in a time of uncertainty, the Central Committee of the CCP already made a call last December for more domestic planting of soy and other oil crops.
Read our recent story on the challenges China has faced in expanding domestic palm oil production to ensure edible oil supply.