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SHANGHAI: The Chinese government has told families to keep stores of daily necessities in case there is a sudden increase in demand as it seeks to ensure sufficient food supplies heading into winter.

A Commerce Ministry statement late on Monday urged local authorities to do a good job in ensuring supply and stable prices, and to give early warnings of any supply problems.

Unusually heavy rains in China in early October have caused vegetable prices to surge, fuelling concern over food prices and worrying government officials in Beijing.

While the current vegetable supply shock is expected to be short-term, it comes amid a heightened focus in Beijing on food security since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government is currently drafting a food security law, and has also outlined new efforts to curb food waste after making the problem a priority last year.

The Commerce Ministry added that local authorities should carry out preparatory tasks such as purchasing vegetables that can be stored well in advance and also look to strengthen emergency delivery networks to guarantee smooth and efficient distribution channels.

It also plans to release vegetable reserves "at an appropriate time" to counter rising prices, according to a state TV report late on Monday.

It is not clear which vegetables China holds in reserves and how big those reserves are.

The state planning body has called for the timely replanting of vegetables, urging local governments to support fast-growing produce, according to the report.

Currently China has about 100 million mu (6.67 million hectares) planted with vegetables, the agriculture ministry has said.

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