SHANGHAI, Aug 17 (Reuters) – China is expected to have a
food supply gap of about 130 million tonnes by the end of 2025,
as its urban population continues to grow and its rural
workforce ages, state media said on Monday, citing a report by a
government think tank.

As the rural population dwindles and farmers struggle to
boost their earnings, Beijing needs to make food security a
major priority, according to the China Academy of Social
Sciences’ Rural Development Institute (RDI).

Within five years, the proportion of the population living
in urban areas is expected to hit 65.5% of China’s total, up
from 60.6% by the end of last year, with around 80 million rural
residents moving into the cities.

At the same time, the proportion of rural residents aged 60
or older is expected to hit 25.3%, the report said, up from
around 15% in the 2010 census.

Worries about China’s food supplies returned to the
spotlight this month after President spoke against “shameful” food waste, prompting a wave of initiatives by
enterprises and local governments.

Maintaining food supplies is a major source of political
legitimacy for the ruling Chinese Communist Party, but steady
population growth along with rapid rates of industrialisation
and urbanisation have put the country’s increasingly scarce land
and water resources under more pressure.

According to a recent study by the China Institute of Water
Resources and Hydropower Research, China’s arable land use rose
by 15.7% from 1981 to 2016, and could increase another 14% by
2032, when the population is expected to peak.

To guarantee food security, the Chinese government has
sought to set limits to urban and industrial encroachment on
rural regions, and it is also cleaning up polluted land and
water to make more available for agriculture.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Tom Hogue)

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