Wen urges direct sales of vegetables in cities

Updated: 2011-10-01 18:50


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BEIJING - Vegetable producers should sell their produce directly to urban consumers so as to lower retail prices, Premier Wen Jiabao said Saturday.

Wen made an inspection tour early Saturday morning of a fresh vegetable market in northern Beijing's Beihang community that opens on weekends to sell vegetables directly to consumers.

After talking with farmers selling vegetables in the market, Wen said that the best way to lower vegetable prices is to link producers and consumers. Farmers can sell their produce directly to supermarkets, schools and communities, so that farmers can earn more while consumers spend less and, more importantly, urban families can buy fresh vegetables at a good price and vegetable waste is also reduced.

"We need to cut intermediaries and lower the rising cost of vegetables, which both producers and consumers will be happy with, " he said.

The Ministry of Commerce and the Beijing municipal government set up four weekend markets in early August to sell vegetables directly to consumers in Beijing's Haidian, Chaoyang, Fengtai and Shijingshan districts, and the markets have been widely welcomed by local residents. The Ministry of Commerce has issued a circular to extend the practice nationwide following the markets' success in Beijing.

The Beihang market opened on August 6, and serves more than 4,000 local households. It sells over 5,000 kg of vegetables every Saturday morning, with prices an average of 20 to 30 percent lower than supermarkets.

Wen asked officials from the Ministry of Commerce and the Beijing municipal government to adopt further policies to support direct sales of vegetables. He said support should be given to farmers in planting technologies, production equipment, transport vehicles and transport convenience. Rent and management fees in vegetable markets should be reduced, and more vegetable farms should be built in suburbs.

China's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, rose 6.2 percent year-on-year in August, far above the government's four-percent target for the year. Food prices account for about a third of the weighting in the CPI calculation in China.