Agriculture Minister Liu Jiang said yesterday he is optimistic regarding the future of China's food supply, Japanese Farm Ministry officials said. During his meeting with Japanese Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Takao Fujimoto, Mr Liu was quoted as saying he was optimistic despite differing views on the future of China's food supply. Mr Liu was referring to a press report that the Chinese Academy of Sciences had warned of a food shortage in the long term in China, the Japanese officials said. They also quoted Mr Liu as saying that China would be 95 per cent self-sufficient in food even in 2030 when its population is expected to peak at 1.6 billion. Mr Liu's assurance coincided with a commentary by the People's Daily yesterday which called on cadres to 'unify their thoughts' and be prepared for another bumper harvest this year. China has had good harvests since 1995 and grain reserves have reached a record level. The commentary - the first of a series - defended China's agricultural policy, saying it helped lower inflation and supported farm production. Fearing opening the farm market would lead to a free fall of grain prices and reduction in the household income of farmers, the commentary said it was right for the Government to almost double the grain procurement prices in the past two years. 'In 1997 our resolve must not be weakened and our policy must not change . . . especially in stabilising and boosting farm production, increasing farmers' income and keeping the countryside stable.' 'Therefore, we must continue to sustain farmers' enthusiasm by maintaining the policy,' it added. Government officials in provinces such as Jilin and Heilongjiang have complained about the high procurement prices and lack of storage capacity.