BEIJING, CHINA — China is developing a response plan to ensure food security amid the global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, China’s Primier Li Keqiang told parliament on May 22.

He said China will keep total crop acreage and grain output stable through the rest of 2020, give more rewards to major grain producing counties, and raise the minimum purchase price of rice.

The pandemic, which began in China in late 2019 and has infected more than 5 million people and killed over 300,000, forced the country to shelter-in-place for several weeks starting in February. During that time, transportation of grain, feed and other food products was limited.

Li said Chinese farmers plan to plant 4.6 million hectares of early rice this year, up 200,000 hectares.

China also plans to start selling corn from its state reserves on May 28 to address the tightening of grain supplies, according to a Reuters report.

A notice on the National Grain Trade Centre’s website said 4 million tonnes of corn, all from China’s northeastern corn belt region, will be offered for sale.

China, which is not an exporter of corn, is forecast to produce 260 million tonnes of corn in 2020-21 while importing 7 million tonnes. Ending stocks are projected at 200 million tonnes, down from a high of 223 million in 2016-17.

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