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Beijing cooks up healthier food plan
( 2001-06-01 07:28 ) (9 )

Beijing is gearing up for a five-year campaign to give the capital's residents healthier food.

Most Beijing people would have previously scoffed at the idea that agricultural products such as vegetables and fruit should be sold under registered brands, but they will have to get used to the idea.

All food sold in Beijing by 2005 will have to meet strict quality standards, Zhao Fengshan, a top rural work official, said on Thursday.

Before that, Beijing will concentrate on securing the quality of seven main food types used daily -- vegetables, fruit, grain, meat, eggs, milk, and fish. Officials will check on products from their production to when they are served at dinner tables.

"Although the overall quality of food in Beijing is good and people should feel safe, we have to do better to catch up with world standards now that hunger is no longer a major problem,'' said Zhao.

"Beijing should dedicate its future agriculture to the production to green foods which meet international standards.''

By doing this, the city will improve ordinary people's lives. Beijing also hopes its food exports will exceed 10 billion yuan (US$1.2 billion) a year by 2005.

Beijing was made a pilot city this April by the Ministry of Agriculture in a national campaign dedicated to improving the overall quality of the country's agricultural products.

Quality defects have resulted in Chinese agricultural products taking up only a small share of the international market, and has even led to them being barred from certain markets.

However, the latest campaign might prove difficult for farmers who have been accustomed to aiming for increased output rather than concentrating on quality.

It is hoped they will learn that being slow to change will mean only losing market advantage and money, said Zhao.

The 3,000-odd vegetable planters in Shunyi District's Liqiao Town, which was selected as a pilot base for the Beijing campaign last year, reported gains made without having to increase output.

Their average household revenue for the year was more than 20,000 yuan (US$2,400), at least three times the city's average for farmers.




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