Japan's 1992 self-sufficiency rate for fruit was 59% and 90% for vegetables. Increased production of these high value crops is beginning to occur in China, where the area devoted to vegetable production increased from 2.7 million ha in 1970 to 8.7 million by 1994. China has the world's largest production of vegetables and is emerging as a major vegetable exporter. For example in 1991, China was the fifth largest vegetable exporting country ($1.9 billion), after the U.S. ($5.2), Spain ($4.8), Italy ($4.3), and France ($1.9).
China produces and consumes a different mix of the world's major food grains than western nations such as the U.S., the countries of the Former Soviet Union (Fig. 6), and developed Far Eastern nations such as Japan and Korea (Table 1). If the countries of the Former Soviet Union can successfully reconfigure their inefficient agriculture, they may be able to meet a large portion of China's expanding need for wheat, barley, and feed grains.
Lester Brown's 1995 book, Who Will Feed China, has raised considerable controversy in China among the highest levels of government officials and agricultural scientists. According to Brown, China will have a population of 1.6 billion by 2030 and will probably need to import 200 to 365 million t of grain. Most estimates for 2030 are higher than the total current world trade in grains at about 225 million t. Chinese scientists debated with Lester Brown about this issue while he was a guest of the World Development Institute of China's State Council's Development and Research Centre (Gao 1995). China already imports more than 20 million t of grain (Fig. 4) and will likely be importing 40 million t by the year 2000 (S. Rozelle unpubl.). The government of China has failed to keep investments in agriculture in line with increasing demand. As a result, grain production has plateaued in recent years (Fig. 7), while cultivated area per capita continues to fall alarmingly (Fig. 8).
However there are opportunities for increasing production. For example, Mei Fangquan, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, found from a satellite survey that China actually has 132 million ha of cropland not the 95.3 million ha officially reported. Thus China has an extra 36.7 million ha in production therefore the reported average yields of 4125 kg/ha is actually about 3000. Politics created an artificial situation where cultivated area was under-reported. This situation continued with central government demands that yields be increased. Production increases were easier to attain across more cultivated land than was actually reported.
In a 3-year analysis of world fertilizer consumption, average fertilizer use was thought to be at about 100% in China and 120%-150% in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan (Saleen Ahmed of the East West Center). However this discrepancy in reporting land leaves room for increased profitable application of fertilizer.
China's leading agricultural exports to the world, in declining value are corn, sugar, pork, cotton yarn, tea, and silk. China exported $451 million worth of agricultural products to the U.S. in 1993 and imported about $376 million. Leading Chinese agricultural exports to the U.S., in declining value, are vegetables (Table 2), feathers and down, cocoa products, tea, and sugar products.
In 1993, China exported about $103 million in vegetables to the U.S. (Table 3) while importing only about $1.5 million worth (Table 4), though U.S. export of high value vegetable products to China is increasing rapidly (Crook 1994). China will be a major competitor with the U.S. for foreign vegetable markets in the coming years. Increased food exports from China to other countries have often come at the expense of U.S. market share--especially in Japan (Matsuoka 1995). About 65% of China's vegetable exports go to developed Asian countries. In 1992, $500 million worth of vegetable products were sold to Japan, $163 million to Hong Kong, $40 million to Singapore, and $26 million to Korea. Among the exported products were mushrooms, bean products, canned bamboo shoots, ferns, fungi, and asparagus.
U.S. garlic producers have taken a beating from China, even domestically. Garlic exports to the U.S. from China increased from 3273 tons in 1992 to 24,461 tons in 1993. The largest U.S. vegetable export item to China is frozen potatoes; 343,000 t in 1993 (Crook 1994).
In the short run major agricultural opportunities in China will develop as expressed by members of the Illinois Farm Bureau who made an autumn 1994 visit to China. They concluded that China will be a strong market for U.S. corn, soybeans, wheat, and meat. On the other hand, the U.S. will continue to develop as a major market for the export of Chinese vegetable and fruit products as health issues and the impact of China's growing economy and cultural influence affect American tastes. The developing U.S. market for Chinese foods will offer opportunities for U.S. farmers who understand how to produce Chinese crops (Larkcom 1991; Lumpkin et al. 1993a, b; Konovsky et al. 1994; Lumpkin and McClary 1994).
|Item||Quantity (t)||Value (million $)|
|Bamboo shoots, canned||65,336||68.2|
|Bamboo shoots, preserved in salt water||23,166||26.9|
|Gan bian beans||46,033||13.2|
|Mushrooms, hei mu er (black wood ear)||2,538||13.8|
|Mushrooms, other dried||10,320||45.9|
|Mushrooms, preserved in salt water||54,194||61.7|
|Roots, other starch||30,147||21.3|
|Sweet potatoz, dried||546,929||72.8|
|Vegetables, other dried||35,775||59.4|
|Vegetables, other fresh and chilled||178,576||49.7|
|Vegetables, other preserved||93,034||48.8|
|Vegetables, other frozen||37,752||35.9|
|Vegetables, other simply preserved||67,134||46.2|
|Water chestnuts, canned fresh||33,838||17.2|
|Quantity (t)||Value (U.S.$000)|
|Sweet corn, frozen||35||0||32||0|
|Vegetables, other frozen||18||0||32||0|
|Vegetables, other prepared and preserved||--||--||1,193||1,104|
|Quantity (t)||Value ($1,000)|
|Bamboo shoots, preserved||2,395||2,429||2,513||2,513|
|Bean cake, miso||351||970||670||1,371|
|Beans and peas, dried||1,821||1,999||1,205||1,708|
|Olives, prepared or preserved||8||13||25||46|
|Peas, including chick peas||3,724||5,169||5,871||7,434|
|Peppers and pimentos, prepared||12||7||15||9|
|Potatoes, fresh or frozen||18||0||10||0|
Fig. 1. Average total intake of food calories from animal and vegetable sources in China.
Fig. 2. Chinese consumption of meat from various sources, in kilograms.
Fig. 3. Change in per capita Chinese consumption of edible vegetable oil.
Fig. 4. Chinese imports of agricultural commodities, in millions of tons. Statistical Yearbook of China, 1995; Press release of State Statistical Bureau, February 1996.
Fig. 5. Changes in the world price of a tonne of rice or wheat, in U.S. dollars.
Fig. 6. Production of the three major cereals in China, the U.S., countries of the Former Soviet Union, and Japan, in million of tonnes.
Fig. 7. Chinese production of major cereals and soybeans, in millions of tonnes (Anon. 1987 and FAO yearbooks).
Fig. 8. Hectares per person of cultivated land in China.
Fig. 9. China's trade surplus with the United States, in billions of dollars.