BEIJING, China – China is one of the fastest growing countries in the world. Throughout the years, the country has become one of the fastest growing economies, as well, boasting one of the highest gross national incomes of any country in the world. But despite China’s success, there appears to be evidence that China is growing at a rate that is difficult to sustain.
One of the greatest indicators of China’s difficulty in sustaining its rapid growth is the country’s growing food problem. And thus, although China is one of the most powerful countries in the world, it still faces a problem that plagues some of the world’s most underdeveloped nations: how to feed its people.
It is important to note that there is a distinction between the problem facing China and that facing most underdeveloped nations. Most underdeveloped nations struggle to feed their population in its current state. China’s problem is not simply how to feed its population, but rather how to maintain food security with a rapidly growing population. The distinction, however, is insignificant, for the ultimate consequence of failing to address China’s food problem will be millions of people going hungry.
In an interview with CNN, Deere & Company CEO Sam Allen suggests that China’s population is outpacing its food supply and, in order to address this problem and feed its population of 1.35 billion, the country must strategically increase both food imports and food production.
One of China’s major problems with food production is its lack of arable land, that is, land that is suitable for growing crops. The lack of arable land combined with decreasing availability of land, due to rapid urbanization, has resulted in lower crop yields and a dwindling food supply in China. China currently has the task of ensuring 20 percent of the world’s populations is fed with only eight percent of the world’s arable land and 30 percent of the world’s available fresh water. At the same time, China’s growing economy has resulted in rising incomes and increased demand for food, particularly grain. As a result of decreased food production and the simultaneous rise in average income, China has had to import more food than almost any other country in the world.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, China imported 22.8 million more tons of grain in 2013, double the amount of what the country imported the previous year. The frequency and magnitude with which China is importing food has resulted in higher global food prices, meaning that the rest of the world is paying more for food. This is likely unwelcome news for poorer nations already facing major problems with food security.
China’s food problems could have a significant impact on global food prices in the coming years. However, there are ways the problem can be addressed. China has already begun to reach agreements to develop farmland in other countries such as the Ukraine. Additionally, funds have been released to upgrade agricultural technology and improve farming productivity in China.
Still, other countries are encouraged to help small-scale farmers benefit from the increase in global food prices, as well as provide increased aid for the lower-income families that will likely suffer as a result of higher food prices. In order to ensure that global food prices remain as low as possible, the ideal outcome for poorer nations, China needs to continue to invest in more innovative and efficient ways of meeting the food demands of its citizens.
– Cavarrio Carter