BEIJING, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Even though China's grain output hit a record high last year, the country will continue to maintain grain imports at appropriate levels to balance market demand and supply, a senior official said Thursday.
The country still imports corn because of the need to balance regional demands, Chen Xiwen, director of the Office of Central Rural Work Leading Group, said at a press conference.
"The moderate corn imports do not mean that there is a supply shortage in the domestic market," Chen said
Considering the exports of corn-processed products such as starch and ethanol and animal products fed on corn, corn exports still exceeded imports, Chen said.
As for the reason of increasing soybean imports over recent years, Chen said the country's soybean production yield was lower than other countries due to climate, technology, seed varieties and transport reasons. The imports have helped save land for other high-value crops.
Chen said China's food security was guaranteed as the country's grain output accounted for 22 percent of world's total output last year, while its population made up 19 percent of the world's total.
China's grain output rose 4.5 percent year-on-year to a record high of 571.21 million tonnes in 2011, marking the eighth consecutive year of growth for the country's grain output.