The outlook for agricultural recruitment in China

China is a huge country with a sizeable population and as such, agricultural production is of vital importance. The Chinese population is currently 1.3 billion which is equivalent to approximately 20% of the world’s population. However, China has just 7% of the world’s arable land. As such, the country continues to face significant and complex challenges to ensure food security. Increasing and sustaining food production is now a national priority, resulting in a rise in agricultural recruitment in China.

Agriculture in China

China produces a number of crops with the main crop being rice. In fact, rice production in China accounts for over 40% of world rice production and over 30% of rice consumption. The majority of rice in China is grown on irrigated farmland which is mainly in the Zhu Jiang delta, south of the Huai River, and in the Sichuan, Guizhou and Yunnan provinces. There are two main varieties of rice, with ‘Indica’ rice accounting for 75% of the rice growing area, with remaining areas being sown with ‘Japonica’ rice. Thanks to favourable weather conditions in southern China, it is possible to grow up to three crops of rice per year, however in northern China only one single-season crop is grown.

Unfortunately rice production in China is facing a number of significant issues such as the overuse of pesticides and fertilisers, a narrow genetic background, oversimplified crop management and a breakdown of the irrigation infrastructure. Conversely, studies have found that China’s rice yield may have plateaued as it has remained largely unchanged over recent years. This implies that only very small yield increases could be achieved in the near future. Therefore it is evident that rice production in China urgently requires the recruitment of individuals with skills in crop agribusiness, such as crop and agri-tech, plant nutrition and protection, agricultural commodities, agrochemicals and more.

Wheat production in China has increased dramatically to become the country’s second largest grain crop. As a result, China has been the largest producer of wheat in the world since 1991. There are three wheat growing areas in China: southern China spring wheat region, northern China winter wheat region and the southern China winter wheat region. It is the northern winter wheat region which is the most important to the country as it accounts for up to 70% of wheat production.

China’s maize crop accounts for over one-third of the country’s cereal production and over 20% of global maize output. The main maize-growing regions of China are the north and north east.

What are the challenges?

Despite its size, China has very limited agricultural land available. However, it still needs to feed the world’s largest population. As such, agriculture is of major significance to the Chinese government. Large chunks of agricultural land are lost every year to industry, urban developments and new infrastructure; nevertheless China’s agricultural output increases slightly year on year. Even so, China’s food imports increased significantly over the last ten years and the country is now the biggest global importer of agricultural products.

As already mentioned, controlling food jurisdiction is a key consideration for China’s government. Grain crop production is tightly controlled and sustained at as a high a level as possible to ensure the population’s basic nutritional needs are met. However, as a result of the population’s rising living standards, patterns of consumption have moved away from a diet heavy in grains to one which includes larger quantities of vegetables, meat, animal proteins, nuts and fruit. This has meant that domestic production of these types of food-stuffs has enjoyed the biggest growth rates.

Agricultural imports to China

The Chinese population’s evolving dietary habits are being mirrored in the country’s agricultural imports. Meat, dairy, nuts, fruit and other value-added products have been imported in steadily increasing quantities over the last few years. Imports of bulk products have, however, slumped and were greatly impacted by issues such as the China-U.S. trade dispute and a subsequent outbreak of African swine fever. Nevertheless, the last two years have seen bulk imports rebound, resulting in a huge increase in total agricultural imports.

Thanks to increasing consumer demand and China’s agricultural limitations, the country’s imports are like to continue to increase further. The largest growth potential is likely to be in value-added products, however there is strong competition amongst suppliers. This means that participants in the market will have to tailor their offerings in order to meet consumer preferences and market regulations to grab a share of the market.Once again, this is yet another area which offers potential for increased agricultural recruitment in China as the expertise for talented individuals will be required to fill roles in commodity trading, supply chain management and manufacturing.

Developments in agricultural production in China

Developments in agricultural production are helping China overcome a number of problems including a lack of arable land and water resources, along with extreme weather conditions, rising labour and material costs, the Covid-19 pandemic and international issues.

The Chinese government has made massive achievements in agricultural production over the last decade; helping the country to get closer to its goal of feeding itself. The government have undertaken a number of policy measure designed to safeguard arable land, including tax relief, a system of direct subsidies, increased investment and a drive to encourage farmers to grow grain.

China’s agricultural infrastructure has also undergone significant development through improvements in equipment and materials which has been achieved by investment in irrigation systems, soil testing, fertiliser development and farm machinery. Initiatives designed to offer effective natural disaster prevention and relief have led to improvements in crop area layout; moving from a strategy of confrontational to adaptive planning. In addition, measures have been taking to combat natural disasters including improved forecasting and monitoring, the issue of warnings in a timely manner and the pre-emptive preparation of financial and practical resources.

Peak Recruit – agricultural recruitment consultants in China

As an established agricultural recruitment company in China, we understand the challenges posed by the highly niche crop agribusiness segment which often faces unexpected increases in personnel requirements. Whether you are looking to recruit within China’s agricultural sector, or are looking for your dream role, please get in touch to speak to our team.