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A massive food crisis seems to be looming over China. The country has faced multiple challenges in 2020. Floods, plagues, and the trade dispute with the U.S. all contributed to seriously affect the production and distribution of food. Although the Chinese government has made everything to keep this situation under the wraps, many indicators point out that shortages have been happening in a wide range of food products and the nation has been relying on imports to meet the demand. Food prices have been soaring like never before, and experts have been warning for a hunger emergency at the same proportions as the 1959 Great Chinese Famine. In this video, we disclose how several supply disruptions have left China struggling to ensure food for its citizens.
China’s list of problems keeps growing. It started with the burst of what turned out to be a global health crisis, which caused record-high unemployment rates, an economic meltdown, led millions to poverty, and sparked a global backlash. Now, the Chinese government has been secretly dealing with a food emergency in an attempt to avoid the public’s commotion. Despite Chinese premier Xi Jinping’s constant denials that the country could be facing hardships on its food supply chains, experts have been claiming on local reports that China was indeed in the middle of a food crisis.
According to some of these reports, there are many reasons behind this situation. The Chinese premier even launched a public campaign aiming to reduce food wastage. Oftentimes the measures adopted by government officials to make sure the population continues to follow the rules are considered invasive and aggressive. Throughout the year, the Chinese media have been dismissing any discussions about a potential food shortage, but the relation with economic partners and the expansion of imports have been showing otherwise. For instance, a recent article has exposed that as China edges towards a food crisis, it looks at India to feed its citizens.
China is importing rice from India shows that the country is in desperate need of rice. It has contracted Indian traders for the import of 100,000 tonnes of broken rice for $300 per tonne. On top of that, local news announced in September that prices of corn were soaring as the country was headed towards a substantial shortage of corn in the upcoming 2020/2021 season.
One of the main drivers to the spike in corn prices was also the occurrence of the African Swine fever outbreak that infected and decimated 40% of the total Chinese pigs’ population, consequently decreasing the supply but increasing the prices on pork. According to China’s National Bureau of Statistics, pork prices went up 52.6% in August compared to the same time last year, while corn prices, which is the main porcine fodder, climbed 20% compared to 2019. The United States Department of Agriculture divulged that China imported 195,000 more tonnes of American corn than the year before.
Furthermore, the country has suffered from severe floodings and droughts this year, which declined the agricultural productivity of the country and resulted in a considerable increase in food prices. Overall, food prices have increased by 11.2% compared to last year’s statistics. The price level of vegetables climbed 6.4% in one month, while egg prices surged by 11.3% within the same timeframe. Evidently, pork prices grew the most, by 52.6% compared to 2019.
Lockdowns also worsened China’s food difficulties. Workers had problems getting to work, which caused a shortage of physical labor that affected production levels. While some crops were not picked, others were not even planted. That’s why the overall supply of agricultural goods inevitably decreased.
With all evidence on the table, there’s no wonder why experts have been questioning the Chinese premier’s statements that no shortages are happening. According to Associate Professor of the National Defense University, Shen Ming Shih, the figures released by China officials aren’t likely to be true, while also pointing out that when the country experienced natural disasters that culminated in a hunger crisis in what is known as the 1959 Great Chinese Famine, Chinese officials released similar orders to prevent people from wasting food, which might be an indicator that a hunger crisis is indeed on the horizon.
Earlier this year, the UN predicted that the world would face a food crisis so acute that the last time it was witnessed at the same level was at least 50 years ago. Now it appears to have arrived, and China seems to be in the middle of such a crisis and might be buying all the grains available on the global markets to ensure the survival of its citizens.”