Earthquake threatens Chinese agriculture

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 19th May 2008

The destructive earthquake, which hit the south of China last week, could have repercussions worldwide in terms of food production. For now, though, prices and supplies are unlikely to be effected.

The earthquake has destroyed over 75,000 acres of farmland in the Sichuan province, an important growing area in China for rice, wheat and corn, with 12.5 million livestock and poultry dead.

Wei Chao’an, China’s vice minister for agriculture, told a news conference that the earthquake would, however, have “limited effect” on food production. “This quake may affect agriculture in the earthquake zone but it will not have any fundamental impact on the overall supply situation in China,” Wei said. “Prices for agricultural goods, generally speaking, will remain stable. We have full confidence in this.”

Top economist at the ministry, Zhang Yuxiang, said prices of pork and vegetables were now falling and echoed Wei’s beliefs that supply would be able to be made up in other regions of the country. “Overall agricultural production is in good shape across China,” she said. “In the coming months we will step up efforts so that production of all the major agricultural produce makes up for losses in the earthquake zone.”

Inflation has been rising at a great rate in China and last month’s figures indicated a rate of 11 per cent, with much of the rise due to the 22.1 per cent food inflation figure.

The devastating quake, which has sadly been responsible for almost 50,000 deaths so far, comes amid fears of a global food shortage and escalating food commodity prices.