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China to boost grain supplies to combat inflation: Xinhua

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Nov 20, 2010
China will increase grain supplies, open up more land for planting vegetables and crack down on hoarding as the government steps up efforts to combat rising inflation, state media said Saturday.

The latest moves come after consumer prices rose at their fastest pace in two years, fuelled by soaring food costs after severe summer flooding and more recent cold snaps hit crop yields.

Authorities would boost the supply of grain, some vegetable oil and soybeans to "meet consumer demand and stabilise market prices", the official Xinhua news agency said, citing the grain administration.

The agricultural ministry also said it would increase the area of land available for vegetable crops "to stabilise production and increase vegetable supplies during the winter," Xinhua said.

Officials would also "seriously work" to prevent hoarding of agricultural products and other "speculative practices", the State Administration of Industry and Commerce said, according to the report.

After one of the country's worst years for natural disasters, the government estimates that more than 80 million people will need food relief this winter, Xinhua said this week.

The move to boost grain supplies comes after the nation's consumer price index rose 4.4 percent year-on-year in October, beyond the official full-year target of three percent and the fastest rate since September 2008.

The government said Wednesday it may intervene to control spiralling inflation as it announced guidelines aimed at ensuring stable prices and supplies of key products such as vegetables, grain, coal and other energy sources.

In the first 10 days of November, average wholesale prices of key vegetables such as potatoes and cucumbers in 36 Chinese cities were 62.4 percent higher than a year earlier, official data showed.

Government fears have been rising along with the prices.

High inflation has a history of sparking unrest in China and the nation's stability-obsessed leaders have already taken a range of steps, including hiking interest rates last month for the first time since 2007.

On Friday, the central bank said it would raise the amount of money that lenders must keep in reserve amid concerns that rampant lending is fanning inflationary pressures.

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