China urges crack down on illegal destruction of wheat crop
BEIJING, May 10 (Reuters) - China's provincial authorities have been asked to investigate suspected illegal destruction of wheat fields for construction projects, and cases of the current crop being diverted into silage, the agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.
China expects a good winter wheat harvest this year, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in a statement posted on its website, having spent 5 billion yuan stabilising the crop after heavy autumn rains had delayed planting in many regions and cast doubts over output and yield.
"Wheat production has gone through several hurdles since last year including prevention against flooding in fall, enhancement of the weak crop, and prevention of pests disease,"
the statement said, citing an official.
"And after efforts from various parties, the current wheat crop condition was good, and the prospect of a good harvest was indeed hard won."
There have been recent media reports of wheat fields being destroyed for construction projects, and videos posted online showing premature wheat crop being cut to use as feed, the statement said.
Beijing has refocused on grain security, a top policy priority that has become increasingly prominent since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.
The statement came as the market closely watched the upcoming harvest in China, which had experienced the worst crop condition in history before winter due to heavy rain falls last fall.
Beijing has allocated millions of dollars to help the wheat crop grow strong, which did improve better than expected, according to the government.
China's wheat output is forecast by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at 136.946 million tonnes for the 2021/22 crop year, surpassing the 134.250 million tonnes in 2020/21.
(Reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)
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