BEIJING, Dec 25 (Reuters) - China will take steps to ensure sufficient food supplies as it pushes forward with land reforms, Xinhua news agency reported, citing a statement from the annual Central Rural Work Conference that ended on Friday.
Beijing has identified food security as one of its biggest challenges over the next decade, with its population still rising and vast tracts of its farmland already swallowed up due to rapid urban and industrial growth.
"Food security is the bottom line of agricultural structural reform," Xinhua said.
China has in recent years unveiled a series of reforms to ease restrictions on the transfer of collectively owned land.
The government will protect farmland and ensure grain output in major producing regions, trying to ensure food self-sufficiency, Xinhua reported.
The government will offer preferential policies to large-scale farms, lower production costs, and reduce inventories of farm products, it said.
China said in August that it will launch a pilot programme allowing farmers to use their land and property as collateral for loans, in a bid to bolster support for the cash-starved farm sector.
China has stuck to a 'red line' in arable land, a minimum area mandated by the government to be reserved for growing crops to ensure food security. (Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Hugh Lawson)