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Extreme Weather and War in Ukraine Bring Food Security into Sharp Focus in China

As the green and yellow crops swayed around her, the farmer provided a small insight into China’s efforts to feed its 1.4 billion people. 

“It’s all rice,” the woman surnamed Liu, 60, told NBC News last month. “Even in the local graveyard.”

Left reeling from a summer of record flooding after some of the heaviest rainfall in 140 years, destroying harvests and leaving millions of tons of grain lost — all amid heightened tensions with the West and the war in Ukraine — China’s leaders have been ramping up efforts to shore up the supply of food and lessen dependence on imports.

“Food security is very important to China,” said Tim Benton, professor at the University of Leeds in England and the director of the Environment and Society Center at Chatham House, a London-based think tank.

“Over the last 20 or 30 years the requirements for large-scale urban populations eating more ultra-processed food and a greater range of food means that their self-sufficiency ratio, in terms of how can they feed themselves, has dropped from a percentage in the high 90s to about 66%,” he said.

Benton added that President Xi Jinping and other leading figures in the ruling Chinese Communist Party would remember growing up during the Great Leap Forward, a disastrous attempt in the late 1950s and early 1960s by then-leader Mao Zedong to rapidly industrialize Chinese society that led to millions of deaths from starvation and the brutal purges of the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution.

Source : NBC News