It is a wise decision for Heilongjiang, a province known for its environmental and resource advantages, to build up a strong green food, or organic food industry, said Zhang Xiliang, director of the office for the development of green food in the provincial government.
Green food production plays a leading role in the province's agricultural sector.
In 2005, the province's green food producers paid 2.35 billion yuan (US$294 million) in taxes, accounting for 52.2 percent of the tax revenues of the counties or county-level cities. Among the province's 22 famous products in China, 10 are green food products.
Green food has become the sixth backbone industry after petrochemical, equipment manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, energy and forestry industries in Heilongjing.
"All of this has happened within a period of six years," Zhang said.
It has been proven that developing green food is the best way to improve the industrial structure in rural areas and realize long-term income growth for farmers under the current conditions.
In 2005, farmers' per capita income generating from green food reached 1,100 yuan (US$137.5), accounting for one third of the total income of farmers. There are 329 leading green food enterprises and 324 large-scale and professional green food production bases in the province.
It has primarily formed eight industrial systems for the production of green food such as green corn, beans and other products that grow in the mountains.
The industrialized production has been spread to more than 3,200 villages and more than 600,000 households, according to statistics from the province.
Zhang said that another benefit of developing green food is that the efficiency of agriculture has been enhanced and farmers' income increased.
It has also helped improve the ecological environment and production conditions in rural areas.
According to State regulations, the construction of green food production bases does not allow pollution from residential and industrial garbage.
Using Wuchang, a county-level city in the province, as an example, following years of development of green food, organic substances in the soil of the arable land has increased from 2.8 per cent to 3.5 per cent, and in some cases to even 5 per cent in some large farms. The air quality has met the nation's first-class standard.
"At present, other provinces in the country have also shown a strong momentum in developing green food, creating fierce competition for Heilongjiang," said Zhang.
To keep the leading and advantageous status of its green food industry, Heilongjiang will set up strict market access and product quality supervision mechanisms while vigorously tapping into domestic and international markets.
Over the past few years, Heilongjiang has established a marketing network focusing on regions such as the Beijing-Tianjin-Tangshan area, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta. The network includes distribution centers, chain stores and franchised shops.
To ensure the quality of green food, Heilongjiang has also launched a permit mechanism for the seeds and fertilizers.
(China Daily August 15, 2006)