China May Be Facing a Food Crisis
... a leaked government document made public on Thursday shows that government officials have also been planning for a shortfall in food supplies ... “The State Party Committee and the state governments and counties and cities must do everything possible to transfer and store all kinds of living materials such as grain, beef, mutton, oil and salt through various channels,” ... The document also calls for the “mobilization of the masses to consciously store grain and ensure that each household reserves between 3 and 6 months of grain for emergencies.” ... As the rumors gained traction on social media, the government denied that the country is facing any crisis. ...
China’s stocks of wheat, corn and rice in 2019 totaled more than 280 million tons, while yearly consumption on average is more than 200 million tons.
But the three-month-long coronavirus lockdown saw China’s economy grind to a halt, and has had a huge impact on the country’s food production capabilities. ... 60% of village officials in 1,636 counties were “pessimistic” or “very pessimistic” about the planting season.
Farmers are struggling to find feed for their livestock and fertilizer is now in short supply. Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, is also the country’s main producer of fertilizer, and factories have struggled to reopen. One estimate puts the shortfall in fertilizer production at 40%.
Another major part of the problem for Chinese farmers is that they rely heavily on domestic migrant workers. ... farmers have struggled to find enough laborers to cultivate their crops.
I'm not usually able to quote so much from an article, since most articles are a couple of sentences of data with a lot of filler, but this one had quite a bit of information.
Don't get too excited about the big numbers for the grain inventory. At the end of the harvest you have "carry over stock" which is what you'll be using for the next year. You still need to plant and harvest to have grain available for the following year.
I think the key takeaways here are shortages of fertilizer and labor. China's farm labor is domestic, but still must be free to travel. In other countries that rely on foreign labor and have closed their borders, problems are compounded. The calendar isn't going to wait on nations to get their act together, or on the virus to subside.
Seed, fertilizer, parts for equipment and irrigation, fuel, pesticides, herbicides. Farm labor, labor in food processing facilities. Transportation. All of it on a schedule dictated by the seasons with very little slack.
China, if the publicly available information is reliable, has done a good job of handling this crisis. A much better job than the US has done, yet food production is at risk.