For the 1,200 farming households living in Xuyan county in Northeast China's Liaoning Province the year 2000 was a miserably futile year, not because of the weather or any other natural calamity.
The problem was the seeds the farmers purchased from the Xuyan Seed-distributing Company. They were fake.
An investigation by agricultural authorities recently revealed that the company last year sold 9,667 kilograms of fake seeds to farmers, at 8.72 yuan (US$1.05) per kilogram, and reaped 84,300 yuan (US$10,200) in illegal profits.
It was revealed the company also sold seeds of poor-quality under the name of the high-quality "Xushi No 2,"for 436,000 yuan (US$52,600) -- a price far above their actual value.
The local industry and commerce bureau has been placed the case for file for further investigation, according to the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.
Unfortunately for China's farmers, Xuyan is not the only place where fake agricultural products are being sold. Such cases have popped up in many places across the country, according to a joint statement issued by the administration, the Ministry of Agriculture and the All-China Federation of Supply and Marketing Co-operatives.
Of the agriculture production goods currently being sold on the Chinese market, about 20 to 25 per cent are fake or of shoddy quality, estimated Zhou Kaizhong, director of the Market and Economic Information of the Ministry of Agriculture.
The rampancy of criminal activities involving production and sale of fake agricultural goods has greatly increased the burden China's 900 million farmers already bear, Zhou said.
In January, the administration, the ministry and the co-op jointly launched a battle in a bid to clean up the agricultural goods market and stamp out the practice of selling fake or poor-quality products.
The battle has achieved remarkable results, according to Mu Jianhua, director of the Consumers Department of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.
The administration has so far launched official investigations into a total of 5,100 cases related to selling of fake agriculture production materials, involving a total of 118 million yuan (US$14.2 million) worth of goods and 127,500 distributing units.
Apart from fake seeds, confiscated materials include fake chemical fertilizers, fake pesticides and shoddy farm implements.
Meanwhile, the co-op, which has a distributing network that reaches all over the country, asked all of its branches to check whether they might have allowed fake goods to be placed on their shelves.
The battle will last until April, according to investigators. But officials vowed in a statement that "rectification of the market will never come to a conclusion," adding that they are seeking to establish a set of rules and standards which will serve to eradicate criminal activities in the sector.
(China Daily 02/25/2001)