(Bloomberg) -- China will protect farmland with the strictest possible controls in order to achieve the country’s goal of food security, the state planner said in a report released at the annual National People’s Congress on Tuesday. 

The government will also devote more efforts to develop high-quality cropland and restore degraded, saline or alkaline land, according to the report by the National Development and Reform Commission. It will also carry out initiatives to increase the organic richness of soil and upgrade irrigation. 

The country is the biggest importer of corn, soybeans and wheat. While food consumption has risen in recent years, the supply of arable land is limited. The government had made a priority of protecting cropland and increasing yields as a way of closing the gap between supply and demand. Geopolitical tensions and extreme weather have made this priority even more urgent.

China vowed to make progress on increasing grain output by 50 million tons within seven years and set a target of producing more than 650 million tons in 2024. The government imposed restrictions on how much arable land a province can assign to non-agricultural purposes in order to keep total arable area above the redline of 120 million hectares, according to the report.

Other points in the report: 

  • China will promote the industrial application of bio-technology in an orderly manner
  • Read More: China Approves GM Corn and Soy Seed Varieties in Crop Boost
  • The government will keep total grain acreage at a stable level, and adjust and optimize crop planting

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