The Director-general of Grain Transport (caoyun zongdu 漕運總督) was an official in charge of the transport (see grain transport, caoyun 漕運) of tribute grain (caoliang 漕糧) from the lower Yangtze region to Beijing along the Grand Canal. In the early years of the Ming period 明 (1368-1644) the traditional position of grain transport commissioner of the Chief Transport Office (du caoyun si caoyun shi 都漕運司漕運使) was revived, but from 1451 on the office was called zongdu caoyun 總督漕運 or caoyun zongdu, and the person appointed was concurrently supervisor of military garrisons, transport canals, and allowed to inspect local offices.
The Qing dynasty 清 (1644-1911) fixed the official rank of the Director-general as 2A which promoted this position to the same level as that of governors-general (zongdu 總督). In case the holder of the office was concurrently a minister (shangshu 尚書), he was given the rank 1B. The zongdu was responsible for the grain transport in the provinces Shandong, Henan, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Anhui, Zhejiang, Hubei and Hunan, and resided in Qinghe 清河, Hebei. His staff consisted of canal-transport inspecting censors (xunshi caowu 巡視漕務), tax circuit intendants (duliangdao 督糧道), vice prefect and subprefectural magistrates commissioned as managers of tax transport (guanliang tongzhi 管糧同知, guanliang tongpan 管糧通判), or as supercargoes (yayun tongzhi 押運同知, yayun tongpan 押運通判), and a considerable number of troops under a vice general of the transport command (caobiao fujiang 漕標副將). In the nineteenth century the change of the course of the Yellow River forced the management of the grain transport system to switch from river/canal transport (heyun 河運) to sea transport (haiyun 海運), which required a wholly different management system. In 1905 the office was abolished.