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China to position potato as staple food

If all goes according to plan, the potato will soon be Chinese people’s newest staple food after rice, wheat and corn. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, by 2020, 50 percent of the annual production of potatoes will be for domestic consumption as a staple food.

Rice, wheat and corn - staple foods for Chinese people for thousands of years. But now, a new entrant. The humble potato. Already popular as a vegetable in Chinese cuisine, the Ministry of Agriculture is now trying to make it a staple food.

“In making the potato into a staple food, we’re trying to process it into bread steamed bun and noodle which is suited to Chinese consumer behavior. It is also to turn it from a non-staple food into a staple food,” Pan Wenbo, deputy head of Dep’t Of Crop Production, MOA, said.

But why the push to make it a staple food? Because the country is in need to adjust the agriculture structure and safeguard China’s grain supply, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

China will see 50 billion kilograms of new food demand by 2020. But it has a shortage of farmland and it is hard to improve the yield of wheat and rice.

The potato therefore becomes a favorite.

“Potato can survive in cold, drought and barren environment. It has great potential to be planted in large vacant fields in the south during winter,” Vice Minister Of Agriculture Yu Xinrong said.

Currently, potato covers 5 million hectares in China. The MOA says more land is needed. The acreage is expected to double in the near future.

The suggestion from the MOA became a hot topic of discussion after it was made public. Potato lovers have applauded the move while others worry that they may very soon have to eat potato bread with fries in one meal.