BEIJING, CHINA — In an effort to increase its food security, the Chinese government announced on March 10 that it has allocated $253 million to strengthen field management for winter wheat.

In a statement on its website, the Ministry of Finance said the money will be used to stabilize winter wheat production in five key regions, including Hebei and Shandong, where planting was delayed because of heavy rains.

Earlier this week, Tang Renjian, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said this year’s winter wheat crop was potentially the worst in the country’s history because of the planting problems.

China, the world’s No. 1 wheat producer, has made grain self-sufficiency a top priority as part of its most recent five-year plan.

The negative forecast comes at a time when the world’s wheat supply is being impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The two countries account for nearly 30% of wheat exports and the shutdown of Ukrainian ports for the last 14 days due to the war has caused wheat prices to surge to record highs.

While much of the world has cut trade ties with Russia over its invasion of Ukraine, China in February announced it was relaxing restrictions on imports of Russian wheat. The decision to allow imports of wheat from all regions of Russia was made during Russian President Vladimir Putin's visit to Beijing during the Winter Olympics.