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Local authorities urged to ensure vegetable, meat supply
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China's Ministry of Commerce issued a notice on Sunday mobilizing all forces to ensure agricultural supplies that are severely threatened by the heavy snow that has hit the southern part of the country over the past few weeks.

About 105 million mu (seven million hectares) of farmland, mainly in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, was hit by the snow. Among these, about 11.3 million mu lost all its output to the weather.

Fresh vegetables also started to disappear from supermarkets in some cities, and what remained was sold at high prices despite government efforts to stabilize prices.

To ease the tight supply further stretched by the coming Spring Festival on Thursday when Chinese need more vegetables, meat and eggs to prepare traditional feasts, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce issued an emergency notice to boost the supply of fresh and live agricultural products by halving the operation fees of vendors.

Nearly 23 tons of disaster-relief materials, such as flashlights, coats and quilts, were transported to nine snow-hit cities by air via China Airlines.

Local authorities also started to open up government reserves. The eastern Anhui Province delivered more than 2,000 tons of carrots, capsicums and tomatoes, among other, into the market, while the southwestern Guizhou Province released 510 tons of pork reserves.

Authorities were monitoring the price changes on a daily basis, and have arranged staff rotation so that there are people standing by around the clock to deal with emergencies.

To stabilize food prices, China's economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, reassured on Thursday that temporary price control measures had been implemented in all 31 provinces and municipalities on the mainland by Jan. 26.

The policy limited price increases of daily food and necessities, such as meat, eggs and liquefied petroleum gas.

In addition, 100 million yuan (about 13.9 million U.S. dollars) was allocated for disaster relief, and agricultural experts were sent to disaster-stricken areas, the Ministry of Agriculture said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 4, 2008)

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