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Food for Thought
China's perspective on food security is now evolving toward an all-encompassing approach
By Lan Xinzhen  ·  2024-05-13  ·   Source: NO.20 MAY 16, 2024

'Having food brings peace of mind" has long been the cornerstone of China's approach to food security. With a population of over 1.4 billion, ensuring an ample food supply remains a primary concern.

However, China's perspective on food security is now evolving toward an all-encompassing approach. Since China attained the status of a moderately prosperous society in all respects in 2020, with the majority of the population enjoying a certain level of economic prosperity and wellbeing across various aspects of life, the people have raised the bar in terms of food expectations.

The traditional view on food focuses on having an adequate supply, whereas the all-encompassing approach goes beyond mere sufficiency to encompass both food quality and safety.

On March 6, 2022, when visiting national political advisors from the sectors of agriculture, welfare and social security during the Fifth Session of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's top political advisory body, Chinese President Xi Jinping proposed to establish an "all-encompassing approach to food."

This is a comprehensive and systematic strategy for ensuring food security and supply, emphasizing the safety and sustainability of the entire food chain.

It involves developing food resources from cultivated land, grasslands, forests and bodies of water, utilizing plants, animals and microorganisms to provide a range of nutrients such as carbohydrates and proteins through multiple channels.

The foundation of this approach to food lies in grain. It prioritizes the efficient production of grain and ensuring a steady supply of essential agricultural products. Simultaneously, the strategy also involves the cultivation and distribution of agricultural and sideline products, including vegetables, meat, eggs and dairy, to meet the ever-evolving market demand.

As the living standards of the Chinese population improve, daily dietary consumption has expanded beyond staple foods, such as rice or grain, to include meat, dairy, seafood, fruits and vegetables.

The all-encompassing approach to food represents an overview of the food sources upon which people depend today, reflecting a new perspective on social progress and development.

Based on the current food production and supply chains within Chinese households and society at large, the new perspective bears several key features.

The first one is diversified supply, underlining the development of food resources from a variety of sources, including cultivated land, plants, animals and more.

The second characteristic is food safety, for which China has established strict standards, oversight, penalties and accountability measures.

The third is agricultural modernization and ecological protection, highlighting the sustainable development of agriculture. To accelerate the transformation of agricultural development models and strengthen the foundation for food security, the approach needs to be coupled with advancements in agricultural modernization, which in turn must undergo balanced development to ensure harmony between humans and nature.

The fourth aspect is the assurance of innovation in science and technology. The new approach to food focuses on leveraging new information, digital and intelligent technologies to lift scientific and technological advancements in agricultural production and create a modern agricultural industrial system. To safeguard food security, China adopts a strategy of sustainable farmland utilization and innovative implementation of agricultural technology, highlighting the crucial role of technology in guaranteeing food security and maintaining a stable food supply.

Food security remains the country's lifeline. By creating a diversified food supply system, China bolsters its capacity to navigate fluctuations in the global food market.

The new comprehensive and strategic perspective not only helps mitigate potential risks to food security but also ensures that the country can adapt to changing market conditions and safeguard its people's access to a variety of food options.

Copyedited by Elsbeth van Paridon

Comments to lanxinzhen@cicgamericas.com

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