Food shortages loom in China

China’s Jilin Province has announced it will ensure spring plowing continues despite Covid-19 lockdowns across the province. However, online videos show police across China preventing farmers from working in their fields.

According to analysts, who fear that a delay in spring plowing could lead to a shortage of food, the crisis goes beyond fallow fields and in fact the real problem that Chinese farmers will have to face is rather obtaining seeds and fertilizer.

Lockdown threatens food supply

Jilin, located in China’s “corn belt”, is an important grain processing and production region in the country.

Authorities blocked the entire province on March 14, affecting 24 million people and putting the national food supply at risk.

On April 6, authorities in Jilin said that to protect spring plowing, more than 80 percent of seedbeds covering 19,768 acres of land had already been put in place and more than 90 percent of corn and soybeans had been books.

However, Chinese videos online showed that various farmers in various parts of the country were arrested by local police while plowing their fields for violating lockdown orders, and were detained or quarantined for 14 days.

The Chinese edition of period time only managed to contact a local seed company to verify the veracity of the official version on ready-to-use seeds. One of its employees said the business had been closed since the lockdown began in early March. “In the midst of the pandemic, everyone is staying home for the PCR test,” he said, adding he was unsure when activity would resume.

The seed crisis can lead to food shortages

Liu, a Chinese journalist who requested anonymity, believes the lack of seeds is more serious than the lockdown restrictions: “Seeds and fertilizer are the two main things for spring plowing. But usable Chinese wheat seed comes at a high price.” Many Chinese farmers have fallen victim to opaque seed supply practices, while some have even experienced near-zero yields due to substandard seeds and because seeds are controlled by foreign entities and are very expensive. “Farmers no longer save good seeds from previous harvests as they used to. Foreign companies control the seed technology coming to China. Some national seed companies, completely independent of modern seed technology, even sold substandard seeds by labeling them as self-produced seeds. As a result, the peasants had a bad harvest”.

Liu blamed Chinese seed growers for substandard products.

Over the years, Chinese farmers have suffered economic losses due to lower quality seeds. According to a 2019 Chinese media report, a case of substandard seeds resulted in a loss of $667,000, totaling 800 acres, for 205 farmers in Jiangxi province.

In 2020, the fake seeds resulted in no harvest in a 279-acre field worked by 40 farmers in Inner Mongolia.

Chen Weijian, editor of Chinese Human Rights Magazine Beijing Spring, said the lockdowns will seriously affect the price and production of fertilizers and pesticides: “Without pesticides and fertilizers, there is no productivity on Chinese soil. I believe that the food crisis in China will become more serious in two or three years,” he added, referring to the huge loss of arable land due to years of government expropriation of rural land.

Recently, Beijing has forced rural areas to restore cultivated fields in various parts of China. Some local officials have reacted to the latest policy by burying basketball courts and roads under layers of concrete to create arable land.

Chen says the food shortage has reached an embarrassing point for Beijing.

Article in English: Food shortages loom in China as farmers face lockdown woes

*Epoch Times Italy*

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