China Can Almost Feed Itself
Farm consolidation and genetically modified crops have barely begun to shape China’s vast agricultural sector. As the population declines, there is unlikely to be a food crisis.
With an official population of over 1.4 billion people, China is the world’s most populous country and makes up nearly 20% of the global population. By land area, China is about as big as the United States. In terms of arable land—land currently used for agriculture—China has about 0.08 hectares of arable land per person.1 This is six times less than the United States, which has 0.48 hectares per person, and far lower than Russia at 0.84. The European Union on average has 0.22 and India, the only other country with a population over 1 billion, has slightly more than China at 0.11. Despite this relatively low figure, China is the world’s largest producer of wheat, rice, and pork and is the second-largest producer of chicken and corn behind only the United States. China imports food in every major category, but it is only truly dependent on imports for soybeans, of which it imports 85% of its consumption, mainly from the United States and Brazil. China itself produces over 90% of the wheat, rice, and corn it consumes, as well as over 85% of all the meat it consumes. Since 1980, China’s food production in every major category has far outpaced its population growth.