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Co-operatives urged to play bigger role
By Zhao Huanxin (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-01 03:06

Chinese marketing and supply co-operatives, who have 160 million farming households as members, are being urged to bolster their role in lifting sales of farm produce and increasing rural incomes.

Well-grounded in rural areas and abundant with marketing experience, they should become genuine co-operative economic organizations for farmers, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu told a national assembly of the co-operatives over the weekend in Beijing.

The three-day meeting, held every five years, ended yesterday.

With a history of at least 80 years, co-operatives in China have a tradition of serving rural development.

They have played an important part towards that end, but suffered setbacks from the late 1950s until 1995, when the All-China Federation of Supply and Marketing Co-operatives resumed operation, according to federation official Li Chunsheng.

Hui lauded the "remarkable headway" the supply and marketing co-operatives have made over the past few years, adding their development is important for rural economic expansion.

The co-operatives now procure 60 per cent of China's cotton on sale, and distribute at least 60 per cent of fertilizers and other agro-production materials to farmers.

Also, fruit traded at the wholesale centres run by the co-operatives account for more than 40 per cent of the country's total production, the federation's statistics indicate.

The vice-premier said the co-operatives should react and adapt to the needs of farmers in a market economy, to better serve and safeguard their interests.

For that purpose, the co-operatives should help accelerate processing of agricultural products and promote modern logistics development in rural areas, he said.

Bai Lichen, president of Board of Directors of the All-China Federation of Supply and Marketing Co-operatives, said the co-operatives have created 3,661 associations in production, processing and circulation of farm produce.

Also, the co-operatives have run 1,200 farm produce wholesale markets throughout the country, turning over 90 billion yuan (US$10.8 billion) last year, he said.

In the years ahead, the supply and marketing co-operatives should bring their advantages into full play to help farmers benefit from the market, he said.

A paramount task is to revitalize the co-operatives at the grass-roots level, which are the closest to farmers but the weakest link in the whole supply and marketing co-operatives network, he said.

So far, China has had 24,173 grassroots co-operatives, according to federation statistics.

In addition to running firms and wholesale markets for farmers, the co-operatives also evolve into community service centres, providing services including farm produce market information, transport and entertainment, he said.

(China Daily 02/01/2005 page2)

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