China farm official expects little growth in soybean planting this year

Hog prices for the world's top pork producer have slumped
calendar icon 20 April 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

China's soybean acreage may only slightly increase this year, an official said on Thursday, suggesting output is unlikely to match last year's jump due to soft prices, reported Reuters.

The world's top soybean importer launched a major effort to increase its production of the oilseed in 2022 amid concerns over its heavy reliance on imports. Output increased almost 24% to 20.3 million tonnes.

However an official from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said farmers were less willing to plant more of the crop in 2023.

"Frankly speaking, due to the low soybean market price and low comparative benefit, the enthusiasm and willingness of farmers to plant soybeans has declined compared with this time last year," Pan Wenbo, director general of the ministry's Department of Crop Production, told a press briefing.

After offering a package of incentives including significantly higher subsidies to plant soybeans compared to corn in key growing areas in the northeast, planting intentions had improved, he added, though any increase would likely come from other regions where a campaign to promote intercropping with corn is underway.

"Compound planting" of the two crops is expected to increase slightly by 5 million mu (333 hectares) and reach 20 million mu (1.3 million hectares) this year, Pan said.

As a result, Pan expected the country's soybean acreage this year to be stable or slightly increase.

China's home-grown soybeans are used for food, while imported genetically modified beans are crushed into meal for animals and oil for cooking.

Also, China's hog farmers are set to make profits by the end of the second quarter, another official said at the same briefing, as feed prices fall and consumption picks up.

Hog prices in the world's top pork producer have slumped this year, weighed down by the largest quarterly slaughter volume in five years, data showed earlier this week.

But consumption is due to improve during the upcoming Labour day and Dragonboat festival holidays, said Zeng Yande, chief agronomist, with losses turning to profits by the end of the second quarter.

He added that a sow herd of 43.05 million pigs at the end of March was still within a reasonable range. The number is 0.9% lower than February but higher than the ideal number of 41 million.

Zeng also said that the disease situation in the country's hog herd was "generally stable", and described recent reports of outbreaks in the north as "hype".

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