At the opening of the 2013 Beijing International Food Safety Forum last week, DuPont released a commissioned report outlining the steps China has taken in its mission to feed 19% of the world's population with only 7% of its farmland.
The paper also looks into the challenges in food availability and food safety facing China, as well as the solutions it is taking to tackle these issues, finding that malnourishment has dropped, but food safety is poor.
According to the report, the proportion of Chinese suffering from hunger and malnutrition has dropped from 21.4% in 1990 to 11.5% in 2012. This progress will help China to achieve its goal of 95% self-sufficiency in basic foodstuffs by 2020. However, more than 94 million Chinese become ill each year from food-borne bacteria, reflecting the severe status in food safety.
"China's society is now in a transitional phase," said DuPont Greater China President Tony Su. "Food safety, food availability and affordability, nutrition and health, food waste and sustainable agriculture have become the five pressing challenges for China's food security, accompanied by the acceleration of China's urbanization process and changes in dietary structure."
Su said to enable progress on a sustainable food security system, China needs to rely on enlarging investment in science and technology, expanding collaboration and developing innovative local solutions.
The report points out that China plans to spend more than $636 billion over a decade to address the issues. According to the domestic media, the focus will be on seed breeding, livestock production, agricultural transportation and storage, flooding, and proper use of fertilizer.
This will ensure the sustainability of China's agriculture and food technology innovations, DuPont said.
The report also calls on China to launch a global discussion that engages every stakeholder in debate on a broad range of food-security issues and possible sustainable solutions.
"We believe that R&D and innovation will lead China from its current economic structure to where its 12th Five-Year Plan wants it to be," said Su. "And science and technological R&D for sustainable solutions is the only way to go."
To read more about China's changing agricultural economy, check out Farm Futures editor Mike Wilson's blog posts:
China's Incredible Food Culture
China Scaling Up Livestock Farms
China's Agriculture: Signs of Progress
China's Fu-Hua Meat Company: From Feedlot to Hot Pot