BRICS to boost grain yield

Updated: 2011-12-03 08:07

By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)

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Joint effort will ensure adequate food supplies, official says

SANYA, Hainan - The BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries should increase their ability to produce grain to ensure food safety, said a Chinese political advisory official.

Bai Lichen, vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's political advisory body, also called for strengthened agricultural and food cooperation to increase production in the BRICS countries.

The bloc plays an important role in global food production and trade, producing 37 percent of the world's grain, Bai said at the first BRICS Friendship Cities and Local Governments Cooperation Forum, which opened in the southern beach city of Sanya on Friday.

"The BRICS countries will contribute a lot to global food safety if their grain production is greatly increased, given that they are home to 43 percent of the world's population," Bai said.

"The BRICS countries should not rely too much on the global food market."

The annual global grain trade is about 250 million tons, less than half of China's food production, according to Bai.

"The BRICS countries should give priority to domestic food production," he said.

Up to 95 percent of China's most important grains, such as rice, wheat and corn, are supplied by domestic production, he said.

For agricultural and food cooperation, Bai said, China will send more technical staff out into the field to developing countries and regions to help develop local technicians.

China has so far developed some 20 agricultural technical demonstration centers and sent more than 1,100 technicians to developing countries and regions.

"We should also promote a fair and smooth trade mechanism between BRICS members and fight any trade protectionism in agriculture," Bai added.

Earlier on Thursday, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu also called on the five countries involved in BRICS to promote information and policy exchanges to build a long-term, stable and efficient cooperative working mechanism.

At the second agricultural ministers conference of BRICS held in Beijing, Hui asked the BRICS members to prioritize agricultural development, especially food production.

The conference saw the agricultural ministers for the five countries pass a 2012-2016 action plan for agricultural cooperation and sign a joint declaration on the issue.

In addition to food safety, the two-day forum in Sanya also included some key issues such as urban development and environmental protection, financial crisis, energy strategy and intercultural communication among BRICS sister cities.

So far, 94 Chinese autonomous regions, provinces and cities have developed ties of friendship with their Russian counterparts, and 48 with Brazil and 25 with South Africa.

"Chinese cities have also developed strong economic and cultural ties with their Indian counterparts. More sister cities are expected to be established between China and India," Li Xiaolin, president of the Chinese People's Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, said.

Ike Nxedlana, chief executive officer of Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone of South Africa, said increased agricultural cooperation with Chinese counterparts is of great importance to ensure food safety in the African country.

"The forum offers a chance for us to share the experience and skills in developing agriculture," he said.

The zone is based in Kwazulu-Natal, which has forged ties of friendship with the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

China Daily