context: Soaring prices for some food items such as vegetables through the month of October have caught the attention of regulators, with MARA (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs) pledging to ensure stable supply and crack down on vegetable hoarding. High prices have caused concerns about inflation, but experts expect the price rally to be temporary.

A statement released by MARA on 29 October said the ministry would take measures to stabilise vegetable supply in an effort to bring down prices. MARA-affiliated NATESC (National Ag-Tech Extension Service Centre) issued technical guidelines to strengthen production and mitigate the impact of cold temperatures.

Vegetable prices have soared in recent weeks, with veg costing more than meat in some cases. Heavy rainfall in major growing regions damaging crops, soaring coal prices and strict virus curbs are to blame, says Sina Finance.

Measures include

  • optimising supply patterns in northern and southern production regions and large cities
  • formulating emergency plans for cold spells expected this winter under the La Nina weather pattern
  • strengthening technical guidance to farmers to help prepare for low-temperature weather and improve vegetable resistance and yield
  • strengthening supply chains through ‘green channel’ policies and cracking down on vegetable hoarding

Local governments have also taken action. Last week Beijing announced a plan to cut transaction and transportation fees for wholesale markets, while Shanghai has revamped direct linkages with suppliers. Governments in Gansu and Inner Mongolia have established special working groups to coordinate distribution and ensure supply over the coming winter months, reports Xinhua.

According to Zhang Jing 张晶 CAAS (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences) associate researcher, recovery of vegetable production capacity will see supply stabilise over the autumn and winter months, with prices for some types of vegetables expected to fall in the coming weeks.