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Organic food booms in provinces
By Li Fangchao in Harbin ´╝čand Li Dapeng in Fuzhou (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-22 06:02

Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, one of the most important grain production bases in China, is planning to further expand its production of organic food this year, according to sources with the provincial Agriculture Commission.

The total organic food area is expected to amount to 1.87 million hectares, accounting for nearly 20 per cent of its total arable land, and an increase of 18 per cent over last year.

The information was collected in a survey of 21 provinces across the country by the Ministry of Land and Resources, China Geological Survey and provincial authorities.

There has been a rapid expansion of organic food in the province since it began its development of such crops in 1997.

A total output of 11.1 million tons of organic food was grown last year, achieving a sales income of 13.2 billion yuan (US$1.59 billion).

The province has quickly seen the increase in demand for organic food industry and it already ranks No 1 in the country in the total area planted with such crops, in the number of brands, and in its output and sales income.

Han Yulong, an official from the Agriculture Commission, told China Daily that organic food produced in Heilongjiang enjoys a high reputation both at home and abroad.

"There is a much higher standard demanded for organic food," he said.

"A pollution-free growing environment, high-standard processing and better quality control are indispensable for organic food production."

This year, the province will continue to accelerate the development of its three key organic foods in 16 counties, including rice, soybeans and maize.

Special funds will be allotted to evaluate the environment condition of agricultural areas and strengthen its quality control.

The province will also attempt to exploit the demand for organic food in the international markets of Russia, Japan and South Korea

The organic food industry has also been growing quickly in East China's Fujian Province since the mid-1990s, especially in the province's coastal areas, such as Zhangzhou, Quanzhou and Fuzhou, said Chen Jianyi, vice-director of the Fujian Provincial Greenfood Development Centre.

Chen said all organic food production bases in the province are operated by enterprises that have won national green food certificates.

Statistics from the Fujian Provincial Agriculture Department show that by the end of 2004, some 160 enterprises had had a total of 273 products that can be called organic.

In 2004, Fujian exported 72,478 tons of organic food with an export value of US$62.99 million, according to Chen.

"I believe more and more small and medium-sized enterprises in the province's northwest will join in this fast-growing industry," Chen added.

Given to its popularity among consumers, organic food has been much in vogue in China in recent years. Local governments are competing with one another to develop strategies for organic food production.

(China Daily 02/22/2005 page3)

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