BEIJING, March 10 (UPI) -- China expects a record grain harvest this year despite a drought that has hit its wheat-growing regions, the agriculture minister said.
Han Changfu's forecast would make it the eighth successive record harvest. It would come amid international concerns that the drought could hit China's harvest, causing it to import more, pushing global prices higher at a time when prices already are on the rise.
Han, while predicting another year of record harvest, did not say whether the country would import more grain this year, the China Daily reported Friday, noting that while China is the world's largest wheat producer, it is also the world's largest wheat consumer.
China's 2010 grain harvest totaled 546 million tons, the report said.
Han said current wheat harvest benefited from recent rain and from massive drought-relief efforts, China Daily reported.
"The primary goal of the ministry is to ensure the eighth successive strong harvest year," Han said, adding the government has placed food security as its highest priority and has plenty of grain reserves.
Han said the government will regulate grain prices but not keep it too low which would hurt farmers.
China's main imports include corn and soybeans.