Insufficient production capacity is the key to the soybean problem, but its causes lie in other links; increasing production capacity is the primary task of the soybean industry, and its solution cannot be separated from the solution of other problems. The entire soybean industry chain is a whole, and production, processing, procurement, storage, and consumption must be coordinated.
The first National Soybean Industry Expo opened recently. The signing of soybean purchase and sales projects was witnessed on site, with an intended transaction volume of 1.96 million tons and a transaction volume of 9.2 billion yuan. The “three pictures and one tree” of soybeans were released at the meeting, which aroused social attention and industry expectations.
Needless to say, soybeans are the biggest shortcoming of my country’s main agricultural products, with the largest import volume and the lowest self-sufficiency rate. In 2015, my country’s soybean planting area was approximately 98 million acres, the lowest in recent years; soybean imports in 2020 exceeded 100 million tons, the highest in history; the self-sufficiency rate in 2021 is only 15%. The soybean issue became a central concern. The No. 1 Central Document in 2022 proposed to vigorously implement the soybean and oilseed production capacity improvement project; the No. 1 Central Document in 2023 proposed to intensify efforts to expand soybean oil planting.
The soybean production situation this year is better than last year. In response to the low efficiency of farmers planting beans, the state issued a package of support policies known as the “Ten Beans” before spring sowing. Agricultural conditions dispatch shows that the soybean area has increased steadily and has stabilized at more than 150 million acres for two consecutive years. Relevant departments predict that soybean yields per unit area will increase this year and the quality will be good. This is a fruitful result of the increased planting of soybean oil crops, and my country’s soybean security capability has been further strengthened.
The soybean market is also better than last year. Since the beginning of this year, the economy has accelerated its recovery, and markets such as catering and tourism have recovered, driving the consumption of agricultural products to improve. In the fourth quarter, the consumption of traditional soybean products has entered the peak season, and the prosperity of protein and crushing processing is improving. It is expected that soybean consumption will be significantly better than last year. The quantity of soybeans is increasing, the quality is high, and consumption continues to improve. The price trend is expected to be mainly stable or stable to strong, and market expectations are improving.
But we must also be soberly aware that some of the weaknesses in the soybean industry have not been fundamentally changed. In the past few years, domestically produced soybeans have suffered from multiple impacts such as price risks, extreme weather and rising costs, making it extremely difficult to ensure the basic income of soybean farmers. Driven by policies in the past two years, both area and yield have increased. Based on the characteristics of agricultural production and industrial development, promoting soybean production capacity cannot be achieved overnight. How to continue to mobilize farmers’ enthusiasm for growing beans? How to sell a bumper harvest of soybeans better? All of this will take a long time to come.
Insufficient production capacity is the key to the soybean problem, but its causes lie in other links; increasing production capacity is the primary task of the soybean industry, and its solution cannot be separated from the solution of other problems. Compared with the three major staple foods, soybeans have “three highs and three lows”, that is, high production costs, high degree of marketization, high degree of international influence, low unit yield, low policy support, and low comparative efficiency. The various industrial problems surrounding soybeans are intertwined and cause and effect each other, so it is natural that they cannot be solved with a headache. The entire soybean industry chain is a whole, and production, processing, procurement, storage, and consumption must be coordinated. The “three maps and one tree” released this time, namely the production area layout map, the unit yield improvement model map, the consumption guidance map and the intensive processing product tree, are the embodiment of the entire industry chain idea.
First, plant well. my country’s soybean yield is only 60% of that of the United States and Brazil, and its oil yield is also lower than that of imported soybeans. If the shortcomings can be filled, the competitive advantage will be restored and farmers will be more motivated. This requires high-quality soybean varieties with high oil, high protein, and density tolerance, which are inseparable from scientific research. At the same time, the output of experts must be transformed into the output of farmers, and costs must be controlled as much as possible. The Northeast region is exploring grain and bean rotation, and other regions are exploring compound planting. Developing idle land resources is also an effective way. However, growing soybeans in saline-alkali land also requires exploring suitable varieties. It can be seen that behind expanding area and increasing yield is improving quality and improving varieties.
Also sell well. Farmers must consider the benefits of planting a variety of crops. They must have expectations before planting and be able to realize cash after harvesting. In reality, there are differences in the average income per mu of different food crops. Some farmers are worried that although soybean subsidies are relatively large, prices will fluctuate greatly. Therefore, local governments should not only focus on completing plant expansion, but also stabilize profits and promote sales. At the macro level, it is necessary to maintain the stability and continuity of soybean subsidy policies and balance the comparative benefits of soybeans and competitive crops. At the same time, financial credit support will be increased, and the coverage of soybean full cost insurance and planting income insurance will be expanded to provide farmers with reassurance.
It also needs to be processed. my country’s soybean production and sales are separated, with planting concentrated in the main producing areas of Northeast China and processing mostly on the eastern coast and the Yangtze River Basin. Long transportation distances between production and sales, low oil content, and high transaction costs all affect the enthusiasm of crushing companies to purchase domestically produced soybeans. It is necessary to guide large-scale processing enterprises to expand investment in the main production areas of Northeast China, deepen cooperation between main production cities and counties and leading enterprises, and solve the problem of misalignment of production areas and sales areas. The advantage of domestically produced soybeans is protein, and its main channel is consumption. It is necessary to guide enterprises to develop new soybean foods and high value-added deep-processed products, and expand the incremental space for domestic soybean processing.
Although it is difficult to increase soybean production capacity, it is correct and meaningful to do it even if it is difficult; the more difficult it is, the more we must do it. Only in this way can a virtuous cycle of healthy development of the domestic soybean industry be gradually formed.