Chinese President Xi Jinping has renewed his call for the country to safeguard its grain supply and rural development, signalling continued concerns at the top about food security . During a Politburo Standing Committee meeting before the annual Central Rural Work Conference in Beijing on the weekend, Xi said that ensuring the supply of primary agricultural products was an important strategic issue, state broadcaster CCTV reported on Sunday. “The food of the Chinese people must be made by and remain in the hands of the Chinese,” he was quoted as saying. “Everyone needs to take responsibility for food security.” He called for strategic planning and protection of agricultural land, and more cultivation of soybean and oilseed crops. “In order to achieve rural revitalisation, we must consolidate the fruits of poverty alleviation,” he was quoted as saying. “We must ensure there’s no large-scale return to poverty.” Earlier, Premier Li Keqiang told a State Council meeting that food production needed to be strengthened, agricultural land protected, and the prices of agricultural inputs stabilised. Food security has been a common presidential theme in recent months. At the Central Economic Work Conference in early December, Xi said that amid the Covid-19 pandemic and changing international relations, China must establish a “strategic baseline” to ensure self-sufficiency in key commodities, such as agricultural products, minerals and energy. “We should make clear the strategic baseline of self-sufficiency in key energy resources,” Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily quoted Xi as saying at the annual tone-setting economic conference. During a visit in Shandong province in October, he stopped at a crop research centre to once again stress that China should be self-sufficient in food supplies . Although known as the world’s factory and the globe’s biggest goods exporter, China increasingly relies on imports for a range of products vital to its economy, such as soybeans, iron ore, crude oil, natural gas, copper, bauxite and gold – sometimes for up to 80 per cent of supply. It imported a record high 11.3 million tonnes of corn last year, while soybean imports, mainly from the United States, Brazil and Argentina, jumped 13.3 per cent year on year to 100.3 million tonnes, customs data showed. Food supplies also became a concern in November after the Ministry of Commerce advised households to stockpile enough necessities in case of emergency. The advice sparked panic buying , stoked by fears about the Delta coronavirus variant and tensions with Taiwan.