China is for the first time preparing to subsidise its cotton production, according to a top official at the country's agriculture ministry.

A news report from Reuters said Xue Liang, chief economist with the agriculture ministry, told a conference that Beijing will offer a total CNY500m (US$64.8m) to farmers for growing high-quality cotton.

The move is intended to boost output and reduce reliance on imports in China, which is the world's largest cotton consumer and producer.