February 16, 2013

CHINA: Food and water security most significant national challenge


John Boulter | Future Directions International (FDI)
8 February 2013


 China faces a significant challenge in maintaining food and water security over the next 30 years. With less than ten per cent of the world's arable land and only seven per cent of its potable water, China must feed 20 per cent of the world's population.

China is presently 95 per cent self-sufficient in food. Demand, however, will rise until at least 2030, when China's population will peak. Demand will also be influenced by a rising middle class, who will demand more nutritious food. From a supply perspective, China will face a number of challenges, including the need for greater access to fresh water and a decline in the availability of arable land. Food production will have to be more efficient and place greater reliance on research, science, technology, innovation and education. China will also require greater access to food imports, at a time when other parts of the world will also be vying for this potentially declining commodity.

Key findings:
  • Food and water security will be China's most significant national challenge over the next 30 years.
  • The combined effects of an increasing population, more people living longer and increasing individual food consumption will require the production of considerably more food than is presently available.
  • Improvements will be needed in food and water availability, usage and supply chains.
  • Additional resources will be needed to increase research and development and improve education and training.
  • Better farming practices, increased mechanisation, reduced wastage and improved environmental management must continue to be implemented and sustained.
  • Sourcing food offshore, whether by investment in agriculture or via the global food market, will be necessary to ensure food security in China

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