BEIJING, CHINA — Protecting farmland and promoting grain production are among the goals of a new food security law adopted by China’s National People’s Standing Committee, China Daily reported.

China needs to “ensure absolute security in staple foods and basic self-sufficiency in grains,” according to the law recently approved by China’s top legislative body. It will take effect June 1.

Despite an overall favorable situation concerning food security, China, with 1.4 billion people and growing grain demand, faces multifaceted challenges, including limited and low-quality arable land and increasing difficulty in securing stable and higher grain output, said Minister of Justice He Rong.

China is home to 20% of the global population while accounting for only 10% of the world’s arable land, and despite having a stated goal of becoming self-sufficient in grain by 2032, it has increased imports of corn, wheat and soybeans by twelvefold over the last five years.

The total grain harvest in China reached over 695 million tonnes in 2023, marking the ninth consecutive year that saw a grain harvest of over 650 million tonnes, said Zhuang Xiaoyong, an official with the NPC Standing Committee’s Legislative Affairs Commission. While considered adequate, he said grain supply and demand remain tight.

One of the main concerns of the law is protecting farmland from development and urban encroachment to ensure adequate grain production. The law calls for the government to restrict occupation of farmland and its conversion to other uses such as forests or grasslands.

The law includes a series of measures to promote grain production, ensure income for grain growers and compensating major grain-producing areas, as well as cultivating new types of agribusiness, Zhuang noted.

The law also contains a chapter dedicated to food conservation, laying down requirements for reducing food waste throughout various processes, ranging from grain production to consumption.

The new legislation is important for pushing forward Chinese modernization, as it has laid a solid legal foundation for advancing China’s system and capacity for food security governance, said Wang Zhimin, a member of the NPC Standing Committee.