China on Tuesday said a record drought across its major wheat-producing provinces would not impact global food prices, with the country expected to meet its demand from “abundant reserves.”
“China is self-reliant on food,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu told a regular press briefing. He was responding to a question on global concerns triggered last week after the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) warned that two-thirds of China's wheat crop could be at risk, if a spring drought followed the on-going four-month-long dry spell.
Mr. Ma said continued bumper harvests for the seventh year and “abundant reserves” would ensure that China met its demand. China is the world's largest consumer and producer of wheat.
Even if China turned to foreign markets to satisfy its demand, it would only import “a small amount” under its import quota, which would not impact international food prices, said the Foreign Ministry.
Mr. Ma said the government was “taking active measures” to minimise the impact of the drought, acknowledging that it was likely to have some impact on winter production.
As of Monday, the drought, the worst to hit China in 60 years, has affected 6.75 million hectares of wheat-growing farmland across eight provinces, leaving close to three million people without adequate drinking water, according to state media. The government last week announced a $1.96-billion relief effort and emergency measures to mitigate its impact and salvage this year's harvest.