China ensures stable production, supply of farm products amid epidemic

By Chang Qin, People’s Daily
The supply of key farm produce remains generally adequate and the market is on stable operation despite the impact of the novel coronavirus outbreak, said a press conference recently held by the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said it will guide relevant associations and enterprises to carry out matchmaking and marketing activities, so as to smooth the channels for farm produce sales and minimize the impact from the epidemic.
Since this year’s Spring Festival, the epidemic has been driving new changes in the supply of farm produce – something that concerns the everyday life and well-being of both farmers and urban residents, such as the massive online purchases of vegetables, the popularity of non-contact delivery, and neighborhood-based group orders placed in WeChat groups.
These new changes met people’s demand for daily necessities and stabilized social expectations, providing strong support for the country’s efforts to win the fight against the epidemic and maintain the general social and economic stability.    
According to the press conference, key farm produce has been on stable supply in recent days.
The price of vegetables experienced slight fluctuations, while that of eggs and chicken went down from the pre-Spring Festival period. It is estimated that China currently has more than 84 million mu (5.6 million hectares) of vegetables, or around 170 million tons grown in the fields, both a 2-percent uptick from the previous year. The production of beef, mutton, poultry, eggs and aquatic products also remained stable, and that of hogs is rebounding.
In an effort to stabilize production and supply of farm produce across the country, China has recently rolled out a series of targeted policies and earnestly implemented the program of city mayors taking responsibility for the non-grain food supply. Besides, it has been trying to tackle the obstacles and difficulties in both production and supply sectors, aiming to improve the country’s capability in maintaining the production, supply and circulation of key farm produce.
On the supply side, what’s offered on the farm produce market has a close relation with the income of the farmers, and efficient supply of the products is of great importance to promoting agricultural development and increasing farmers’ income.
Farming season passes no matter what happens, so at the key stage of spring plowing, the country must ensure its farming while maintaining efforts of epidemic prevention to guarantee adequate supply of farm produce.
Apart from the timely collection of winter and spring vegetables, the country should also keep appropriate crop rotation and expand the planting of fast-growing vegetables.
As green leafy vegetablesare in a rising demand, peri-urban areas shall speed up the production of such varieties to strengthen local supply, and agricultural enterprises and cooperatives are also encouraged to practice flexible allocation of the rural labor force so as to resume production as soon as possible.
To guarantee stable production and supply of major farm produce, China needs to open “green channels” for fresh agricultural products so as to ensure efficient supply. The facilitation of rapid circulation of vegetables are a top priority especially when the epidemic is exerting a major impact on the supply chain of agricultural products.
In an effort to facilitate the “first mile” of agricultural products after production, China’s No. 1 Central Document” issued last month proposed to establish cold chain logistics infrastructure for the storage of these products. Only by improving the weak links and enhancing infrastructure can smooth shipment be guaranteed and overstock avoided, the document said.  
To address the contradiction between the short supply of vegetables in some cities and the impeded logistics in the origins, efficient matchmaking must be conducted.
At present, the huge demand of online shopping is making e-commerce platforms even more competitive. Through influencer marketing and offering special subsidies, multiple platforms have successfully found the markets for agricultural products online.
China’s battle against the novel coronavirus epidemic has entered a critical stage. Local authorities across the country must intensify efforts to ensure stable supply of farm produce by enhancing production, smoothing channels and strengthening connection, so as to help the country achieve its annual economic and social development goals.

A villager harvests vegetable in a farm in Dongsheng village, Longquan township, Xintian county of central China’s Hunan province, Feb. 26. (Photo by Liu Guixiong/People’s Daily Online

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