Chinese premier says enough rice, only price going up: report

BEIJING, April 1, 2008 (AFP) – China will be able to maintain adequate rice supplies to its 1.3 billion people despite recent sharp hikes in global prices for the grain, Premier Wen Jiabao said in comments reported Tuesday. “Please set your mind at rest because China has an abundant supply of rice,” the China Daily newspaper quoted Wen as saying at a summit in Vientiane, Laos, on Monday.

“China is capable of feeding itself with its own rice production.”

Wen admitted the recent 30-percent jump in rice prices did have an impact on China’s food prices but said the country was largely self-reliant in the grain, according to the report.

He said China had stockpiled about 40-50 million tonnes of rice.

Wen also pointed out that the volume of rice traded on the world markets was less than a tenth of that in the Chinese market, the newspaper said.

The Chinese premier said the central government had taken a number of measures to promote farming, such as raising farm subsidies, building irrigation works, and improving technologies, the report said.

Experts have warned about the future availability of rice as only a few countries have large surpluses of the grain, and some of the biggest producers are hav