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Agricultural fair reaps US$4.6b contracts
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The Fifth China Agricultural Fair ended in Jinan of eastern Shandong Province on Tuesday with the signing of investment projects and purchases worth US$4.6 billion, a senior agricultural official said.


Both the signed cooperation and intention agreements, which involve nearly US$5 billion, realized a 20-percent increase compared with last year, said Gao Hongbin, deputy minister of agriculture.


Foreign investors inked purchases of 4.4 billion yuan (US$583 million) in large-scale deals, accounting for 54 percent of the total agreements.


The four-day event, with the theme of "Green Agriculture, Harmonious Countryside", attracted a record 1,600 firms, mostly green food makers from Chinese mainland and Taiwan, 90 companies from 19 countries including Japan, France and Britain, and 380 international purchasers.


A bar-coded technology that allows people to read information of a food item with the aid of a scanner was on display at the fair, attracting throngs of visitors.


Just scanning the barcode tagged to a food product, a cucumber for instance, you can see the producer's name, how it was grown, when it was picked and how it was transported.


More Chinese, especially those in big cities, now prefer buying organic food products although they are more expensive.


Various green food and products, such as grains, vegetables and honeydew, sold well at the fair despite some being ten times more expensive than ordinary alternatives.


To assure domestic and overseas consumers, the government has introduced recall systems for unsafe food in late August and launched a four-month-long safety inspection campaign nationwide, including clampdowns on banned toxic chemicals in farm products and carcinogenic malachite green and nitrofurans in aquatic products.


The government has certified a total of 14,339 types of products from 5,315 manufacturers as green food, according to official statistics.


(Xinhua News Agency October 17, 2007)


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