Ultimately, the Great Leap Forward ended in economic devastation, famine, and death. The result of so much labor being diverted to steel production in combination with poor weather conditions resulted in a shortage of food that caused tens of millions of deaths. Estimates of the deal toll range from 18 million to 45 million.
Under tremendous pressure from the government to produce record harvests in response to innovations, officials reported exaggerated results. These were used as a basis for determining the amount of grain to be taken by the state to supply the cities and how much to export. Scarce was left for the peasants, leading to starvation. Despite widespread famine in the countryside, China remained a substantial exporter of grain from 1958-1960.