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1st LD-Writethru: China's grain output rises for 10th consecutive year

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

BEIJING, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- China saw another bumper year for grain production in 2013 as output gained 2.1 percent year on year to hit 601.94 million tonnes, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Friday.

This year marked the 10th consecutive year for increased grain output in China.

NBS senior statistician Huang Jiacai attributed the growth to the government's policy support for farming, favorable weather conditions in major growing areas, as well as a successful fight against pests.

In 2013, China's grain cultivation areas totaled 111.95 million hectares, up 0.67 percent from 2012, the NBS data showed.

The NBS said the government has continued to expand subsidy programs in agricultural production and has raised the minimum purchase prices for wheat and rice to stimulate grain production.

China launched the minimum pricing program in 2006 to protect farmers from price volatilities, stipulating that the government will buy wheat for state reserves at a set price when market prices fall below the set price.

The central government has also set aside billions in subsidies this year to support the use of key technologies to combat the spread of pests and mitigate the impact of droughts.

The average yield per unit area rose 1.4 percent from 2012 to hit 5,377 kg per hectare this year.

Despite the bumper harvest, analysts cautioned of various challenges China faces to meet the growing demand of its billion-plus population, including shrinking arable land amid the urbanization drive and land pollution due to excessive use of pesticides and fertilizers.

To ensure grain security, the Chinese government has pledged to speed up the transfer of rural land and offer more subsidies to family farms and farmers' cooperatives in an effort to develop large-scale farming.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/xinhua-news-agency/131129/1st-ld-writethru-chinas-grain-output-rises-10th-consecutive-