CHINA> Regional
Herbicide blunder chokes NW China paddy field
Updated: 2009-06-02 08:57

YINCHUAN -- Rice growers in northwest China are struggling to replant their paddy fields after a sales agent mis-sold a herbicide produced under licence to Germany's BASF chemical giant.

The herbicide, known as pendimethalin, has killed or damaged rice seedlings planted over 147 hectares in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, the local agricultural authority said Monday.

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The Chinese agent told farmers it could be used for all types of planting, but it was actually specified for nursery fields rather than large-scale paddy cultivation, said Ma Ming, vice director of the regional agricultural and stock bureau, which conducted a five-day investigation.

The quality of the herbicide, which was produced in China by Longdeng Chemical Co. Ltd., based in Jiangsu Province, was not in question, said Ma.

Longdeng is a contractor of BASF AG, the world's largest chemical company.

Longdeng's sales agency, Ningxia Shenghe Agricultural Production Materials Co. Ltd., sold about 12,000 bottles of the herbicide to Ningxia farmers, who applied it to 800 hectares of paddy fields early last month, said Du Changrong, Shenghe's manager.

However, seedlings in about 147 hectares in Qingtongxia and Lingwu cities were reported to have swollen roots and other damage on May 19.

Representatives of Longdeng went to Ningxia on May 28, bringing 190,000 yuan (US$27,828) to buy new seedlings for affected farmers.

Half of the affected areas have been replanted and Longdeng is raising another 110,000 yuan to help all affected farmers to replant by Friday.

The harvest in the two cities could be saved if the deadline was met, said Ma.

The company is negotiating with the farmers over compensation, which is estimated to come to 3,000 yuan to 7,500 yuan per hectare.

The net income for a hectare of rice paddy is 7,500 yuan to 9,000 yuan.