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China to include potato as staple food

Efforts are being made by China to boost potato acreage and transform the crop into the country’s fourth staple food after rice, wheat and corn, according to Yu Xinrong, vice-minister of agriculture

“It is time for potatoes to become a staple food given China’s rapid urbanisation, and they can diversify the dinner table,” said Wan Baorui, director of the East Asian country’s state food and nutrition consultant committee.

ECNS reported that the Ministry of Agriculture revealed that potato has been grown for about 400 years in China and now covers five million ha. The acreage is expected to expand to 10mn hectares in the future to better safeguard the country’s grain supply, the ministry added.

The country would see 50bn kg of new food demand by 2020. With a shortage of farmland, it has been hard to improve the yield efficiency of wheat and rice in China, but it is easier to improve with potatoes.

China has set a ‘red line’ minimum of 120mn ha of cultivated land but pressure on arable land was still great, largely due to rapid urbanisation.