context: In the context of increasing consumption of animal products and dependence on grain imports, central policy has demanded corn and soybeans be replaced in animal feed to ease food supply pressure and lower the costs of feedstuff.

Feeling the pressure from surging feed grain imports, MARA (Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs) released a notice urging the reduction and replacement of soybeans and corn in feed formulas. Aiming to come up with technical and work plans within 40 days, it specifies

  • tasks
    • building and improving a feed grain nutrition database and platform
    • developing low-protein formulas for pigs, broilers and layers
      • replacing corn and soybeans with paddy rice, wheat and tuber crops, etc
    • promoting formula and processing systems
  • timeline: finalising technical systems and an implementation plan by end April

Imports of soybeans and corn were alarmingly high in 2020, with alternative grains such as wheat, sorghum and barley also seeing rising overseas procurement. The momentum of increasing feed grain imports continued in the first two months of 2021, registering more than 200 percent y-o-y growth, while corn and soybean prices skyrocketed, per the General Administration of Customs. Since 80 percent of imported grains will be used for animal feed, optimising formulas to reduce soybean and corn use and developing new forage resources (such as alfalfa and oat grass) are much needed, says Chen Mengshan 陈萌山 State Food and Nutrition Consultant Committee director. Taking up 30 percent of animal feed but having low nutrition use efficiency, soybeans have the potential to be cut. Reducing the share of soybean meal by 3 percentage points means saving 11 million tonnes of soybean meal and 14 million tonnes of soybeans, estimates Xiang Zhonghuai 向仲怀 Chinese Academy of Engineering academician.