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China No Need For Big Foreign Wheat Buys

The drought gripping China’s farming heartland will not force the country to make big international purchases to ease any shortfall, the former head of the State Grain Reserve Bureau told a local newspaper.

Gao Tiesheng, former head of the bureau and also former general manager of Sino Grain, told the China Securities Journal that the long dry spell may force up prices of wheat products this year.

“However, it won’t have too great an impact,” Gao said. “Even if wheat production drops, our country’s wheat reserves are adequate.”

The comments from the former grain chief added to others from experts and officials in past days, saying that the drought will not seriously dent China’s grain production or force it to make big buys abroad.

China will not have to turn to international markets to make up for any shortfalls, Gao said.

“Based on China’s current wheat reserves and stocks, it won’t, and won’t need to, make major purchases on the international market to make up for any shortfall.”

A domestic media outcry about the drought triggered speculation that China, the world’s biggest wheat producer, might resort to imports, but some experts say fears over the impact of the drought are overblown.

China will produce 113.0 million tonnes of wheat in 2008-09, the U. S. Agriculture Department said Feb. 9, leaving its production figure unchanged from last month.

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