China Announces Plans to Dramatically Increase Its Soybean Acres

China, the world’s top soybean consumer, plans to increase massively its domestic oilseed production over the next four years.

The move will go some way to reverse a long-term trend that has seen oilseed imports soar, even as excess corn piles up in government inventories.

China’s top policy body, the National Development and Reform Commission, on Friday announced a plan to grow soybeans production to 18.9m tonnes by 2020, up 56% from 2014 levels.

The NDRC forecast soybean sowings to rise 37% between 2014 and 2020, to 9.3m hectares.

The NDRC plans to increase rapeseed by 10% over the same period, 16.2m tonnes, and up peanut production by 13%.

Insatiable oilseed demand

The shift toward oilseed sowings follows the announcement of a policy to shrink corn sowings, in a move to rebalance the domestic grain market.

China’s seemingly insatiable demand for soybeans is driven by the largest chicken and pork sector in the world, as rising incomes drive meat consumption ever higher, as well as massive demand for edible oils.

China is expected, to import 86m tonnes of soybeans this season, with only 12.5m tonnes of domestic production, according to forecasts from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Excess corn production

The country’s corn balance sheet, meanwhile, is heavily in surplus. Stocks have grown every year but one since 2005-06, and are now seen well over a 100,000 tonnes.

The dynamics reflect the effects of a state subsidy system, implemented in 2008, which held Chinese corn prices well above international levels.

Since 2008 corn area has increased by over 6m hectares, to 36.0m hectares, according to USDA estimates.

Soybean plantings meanwhile have dropped by 2.3m hectares, to just 6.8m hectares over the same period.

Oilseed rape plantings edged up by about 400,000 hectares, to 7.0m hectares over the period.

Source: AgriMarketing

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