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After weeks of insisting China has no serious concerns about food security despite coronavirus lockdowns and the Russia-Ukraine war, state media on Tuesday tacitly admitted farmers will need to make extraordinary efforts to avert a crisis.
The state-run Global Times began by quoting officials who insisted “China’s food supply is adequate to meet current market demand,” but everything else about the article belied that claim, as it described farmers “going all out during the spring plowing season in response to the government’s call to ensure adequate food supplies and stabilize market prices.”
Chinese Communist reports about crisis management invariably follow the template of “wise officials request exceptional efforts to keep problem firmly under control, and dutiful citizens happily comply.”
The Global Times described an awfully large number of farmers scrambling to address a problem supposedly under the complete control of omnicompetent government bureaucrats – from dramatically increased use of hybrid corn seed to increased production of potash for fertilizer.
Most amusingly, the Communist paper cheerfully reported the coronavirus lockdowns that were causing supposedly minor hassles for farmers in Jilin province are clearing up, when a week ago the same editorialists were claiming there was never a lockdown problem in Jilin at all:
Meanwhile, as the coronavirus infections have been largely controlled in Jilin Province, a major grain production hub in the country’s northeast, spring farming activities are resuming in an orderly manner.
Speaking to the Global Times on Tuesday, Gao Guangyong, a farm owner and farming services provider in Dongfeng County of Jilin, said that they are beefing up farming after the government opened green channels that ensured smooth logistics for agricultural materials.
“Now people can travel between cities with special passes issued by the government,” Gao said.
Another Global Times article on Tuesday touted the use of drones and satellites by Chinese meteorologists to help farmers grow more wheat:
The new satellite-powered service could address the previous lack-of-precision problems in weather forecasts for grain production, Zhang Mingwei, an associate research fellow with the National Satellite Meteorological Center who is in charge of the project, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
The satellite service would offer not only the distribution map of winter wheat and data on the planting area in different regions, but also dynamic reports of yearly distribution changes, which would support summer grain production forecasts and assessment of the impact of weather disasters, according to the center.
The advancement of satellite technology and China’s growing capability in satellite applications have made it possible to address the previous problems. The Gaofen-6 satellite, the country’s first high-precision agricultural observation satellite, not only has a resolution up to 2 meters, but also can tell different crops [such as wheat and beans] based on their spectral characteristics, Zhang said.
The satellite monitoring project is scheduled to begin assisting with corn and rice planting next year and will also be offered to “overseas users in countries along the route of China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.” Many of the wheat farming provinces covered by the initial phase of the project were hit by coronavirus lockdowns during the Omicron wave that began in late 2021.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, coupled with ongoing global shipping problems – which grew a good deal worse when China put the vital port city of Shanghai under quarantine – threaten to cause food crises around the world.
Never let a crisis go to waste. https://t.co/wSCp1olkSc
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) March 27, 2022
China has a huge population, but also maintains extensive food reserves, so in the near term its food crisis would likely be a matter of distribution – as seen in Shanghai itself, where the lockdown was imposed too suddenly for residents to adequately prepare for weeks under house arrest, and complaints about food shortages are filling social media.
The situation in Shanghai is so dire that nervous residents of other cities are beginning to stockpile food in case they suffer similar lockdowns, including residents of the national capital, Beijing.