This report outlines the growth success registered by China over the past decades. It states that China’s rapid economic growth would not have been possible without successful growth in the agricultural sector. This growth, proceeding at a rate of almost 5 percent per year, has played a key role in the nation’s transition from an economy dominated by agriculture to one dominated by the industrial and service sectors. The authors analyse what the growth of China’s economy means for China and the rest of the world, focusing in particular on the role of technology in promoting agricultural productivity growth, food security, and poverty reduction.
The report finds a number of factors that will drive China’s future demand for food. These include:
- continued rapid urbanisation will have a large impact on food consumption patterns and the composition of the food economy;
- income growth will lead to increased consumption of nearly all foods except rice, wheat, and some coarse grains;
- according to the baseline projections, China will be able to provide most of its food grains (rice and wheat);
- under the high-R&D-investment scenario, China is projected to achieve grain self-sufficiency in the future, one of the major targets of its agriculture policy;
- high levels of R&D investment will also significantly increase the exports of China’s labour-intensive products while reducing its imports of land-intensive products;
- however, if China lowers its R&D investments, the nation is projected to require imports of nearly all agricultural commodities in the coming decades.
The paper concludes that China’s agricultural development and investment in new technology would contribute to global food security by both increasing food supply and stabilising, or even lowering world food prices. This is particularly relevant for those countries with agricultural economic structures that are complementary to China’s. China’s experience demonstrates the importance of technological development and public investment in improving agricultural productivity, farmer income, and food security in a nation with limited supplies of land and other natural resources.