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China to plant 70 per cent of sugarcane with machinery by 2022

[BEIJING] China will boost mechanization of its sugar industry over the next five years as part of a broader plan to upgrade domestic production, the manager of the country's sugar reserves said on Friday.

China aims to plant 70 per cent of its sugarcane and 98 per cent of sugar beet with machinery by 2022, up from 40 per cent and 80 per cent at present, according to a five-year plan issued by the China Sugar Association in October, the China Merchandise Reserve Management Centre reported on its website on Friday.

Mechanical harvesting of sugarcane and sugar beet will also rise to 20 per cent and 90 per cent respectively over the same period, according to the plan, from 4 per cent and 60 per cent now.

The measures were part of a broader plan to "upgrade the domestic sugar industry and improve its comprehensive competitiveness significantly in the next five years," the document said.

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China will speed up the development of machinery and improve sugar refining technology to allow sugar production at various scales and in a variety of landscapes, it said. It will also accelerate the cultivation of quality breeds of sugar crops, and improve technology in irrigation, fertilization, and refining.

The plan comes after China halved permits for out-of-quota sugar imports to around 1 million tonnes and imposed extra tariffs, after local mills complained that imports had "seriously damaged" the domestic industry.

China's sugar imports in the first nine months of the year fell 29.8 per cent from a year earlier to 1.83 million tonnes, according to customs data.