context: China has expressed its eagerness to take on more responsibility and leadership in realising the global goal of ‘zero hunger’ by pledging more thorough-going international cooperation in agriculture. With concerns and uncertainties buffeting international ag trade during the present pandemic, the PRC has consolidated its food supply chains by securing procurement deals.

In light of intensifying challenges facing global ag development such as food insecurity, climate change and green transformation, Ma Youxiang 马有祥 MARA (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs) vice minister again called for global solidarity to overcome these challenges and speed up working towards the goal of ‘zero hunger’ at the Fourth HIEF (Hongqiao International Economic Forum) in Shanghai on 5 November.

This year HIEF launched an ag session for the first time, highlighting the urgent need for a platform to bring together governments, academics and related industries from around the world to exchange experiences and opinions on global ag trade. A large-scale international effort is required to rebuild ag supply chains and eliminate trade restrictions in the post-pandemic recovery, stressed Ma. To mitigate the impact of the pandemic on food security, more than 35 countries imposed export restrictions on vital ag commodities, such as grains to prioritise domestic supplies. International prices of major ag commodities, such as soybeans, wheat and cotton, rose by 50 percent in 2020, with corn and palm oil even exxceeding a 100 percent increase.

Despite the disruptions caused by the pandemic, China’s ag trade value in the first three quarters of 2021 topped US$225 bn with 26 percent of y-o-y growth. Sinograin and major soybean exporters including Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay reached 8.4 mn tonnes of procurement at the Forum, 20 percent more than in the previous year. China, as the largest ag producing and most populous country (making it both a contributor and beneficiary of global ag trade), is keen to contribute more to international collaboration on food security, says Ma.