Friday, April 20, 2012


China is a country loved by many, hated equally by many and admired by many, depending on what criterion is used. Its pole vaulting into global economic summit and talking as an equal with established world powers has been both dramatic and amazing. calling for admiration all around. But it is hated world over when one looks at its brutality and remorseless suppression of the citizens denying the fundamental rights enjoyed in many democratic countries. No doubt China has built a solid foundation for its technological and industrial growth though the inputs from Soviet Union during early stages should not be forgotten. Full credit must be given to the farmers of the country for raising food production and productivity in almost all crops, making it the top producer of many foods. All said and done, China still lives in rural hinterlands and through shrewd policy orchestrations the country was able to back up the farming community remarkably well. Latest instance of government's long term vision is reflected in the frenetic pace with which it is trying to build up its swine food industry by transforming small scale rural farms into large industrial production centers. Unwittingly the US is helping China to achieve this goal through supply of technology and other inputs with a short term objective of earning dollars from this dollar rich country! Here is a take on this interesting development which should be an eye opener for others like India.

"In a country where pork is a culinary staple, the demand for a protein-rich diet is growing faster than Chinese farmers can keep up. While Americans cut back on meat consumption to the lowest levels seen in two decades, the Chinese now eat nearly 10 percent more meat than they did five years ago. China's solution: to super-size its supply by snapping up millions of live animals raised by U.S. farmers as breeding stock - capitalizing on decades of cutting edge agricultural research in America. By taking this step, say breeders and exporters, China will move from small-scale backyard farms, to the Westernized tradition of large consolidated operations to keep up with demand. "I liken it to their telephone system," said Mike Lemmon, co-owner of the Whiteshire Hamroc farm, which specializes in exporting breeding swine to China. "Most of China's mainland went from having no landlines to everyone having a cell phone. They're doing the same thing with farming." Focus on livestock genetics also represents an emerging economic bonanza for two of the United States' most powerful industries: technology and agriculture. Worldwide, the United States exported a record $664 million worth of breeding stock and genetic material such as semen in 2011. But as fortune shines on breeders, concerns are being raised. While U.S. consumption of meat falls, the price of producing a pound of protein rises, meaning meat companies are seeing their margins shrink. That has prompted some critics to question whether the short-term gains of this trend will result in a longer-term loss of a key export market for American meat producers. This is, after all, a well-trod path in China's pursuit of efficiency: import a technology or create a joint-venture; learn the best practices; apply those practices at a lower cost than overseas rivals; and emerge as an aggressive competitor in the global market".

Chinese are biggest consumers of pork meet and changing their traditional food eating habits is a herculean task. The fact that Chicken meat is cheaper to produce should have persuaded the Chinese authorities to discourage pork based diet in stead of tuning their livestock industry to raise pork production which will definitely be harmful to the country in the long run. Another concern is the impact of the expansion of pork industry in China on the global food front. While country farms use locally available feed resources, high tech birds need to be fed grain based feeds sucking out a substantial portion of food production regularly without any respite. The US which is pampering the Chinese in every conceivable way will realize soon about its short sighted policy of assisting Chinese in their focused pork industry program!


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