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China will increase its efforts to boost the output of soybeans and edible oils, citing a key rural policy document as it continues to push for greater self-sufficiency in its key food supplies

Soybean oilChina aims to to boost grain production capacity by 50 million tonnes. (Image source: Adobe Stock)

The world's top soybean buyer is trying to lower its heavy reliance on imports of the oilseed as the COVID pandemic, growing trade tensions and increasing climate disasters raise concerns about feeding its 1.4 billion people.

In its annual rural policy blueprint, known as the ‘No. 1 document’, the State Council, China's cabinet, reiterated a recently stated goal to boost grain production capacity by 50 million tonnes from current production of more than 650 million tonnes.

To help raise soybean output, the document called for the continued promotion of intercropping soybeans with corn and developing saline land for soybeans. China will also seek to raise corn yields, further support wheat farmers and promote rapeseed production on fallow land during winter months, as well as lesser known oilseed crops such as camellia, according to the document.

However, "China's biggest problem is not how much area to plant, but how to achieve technological progress," said Ma Wenfeng, senior analyst at Beijing-based agriculture consultancy, BOABC, noting that corn yields in China were much lower than in the United States.

Lifting yields requires an overhaul of the industrial structure and system, he said, with many farmers still migrating to cities to find work, leaving only elderly people with little education farming the land.

It also called for the further development of indoor farms, with plans to explore building such facilities in the Gobi and other deserts.