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Heilongjiang Goes Green in Food
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Visitors taste green food from Suiling, a county of Heilongjiang Province, at a kiosk at the 18th China Harbin Fair for Trade and Economic Cooperation.


Heilongjiang is not only one of the granaries of the country, but also among its first provinces to adopt environmentally friendly plantation methods.


The province has the highest plantation acreage, output and cash crop production in the country.


With its fertile land and high mechanization level in agriculture, the province is now switching much of its attention to green food, which boasts high added value and sells well both in the domestic as well as international markets.


Sun Jingfeng, deputy director of a leading group in charge of the green food industry, under the Heilongjiang Provincial Agricultural Committee, says the province's green food output was 18.36 million tons in 2006, almost quadruple of that in 2000. Its revenue, on the other hand, increased six times to 47.6 billion yuan (US$6.26 billion).


"The green food industry has already become the sixth backbone industry in Heilongjiang. Petrochemicals, equipment manufacturing, pharmaceuticals, energy and forestry are the other five," Sun says.


Green food is grown on 3.12 million hectares in Heilongjiang, that is, nearly one-third of the province's arable land, with a large number of farms being labeled green food parks in accordance with national standards, he says.


The number of green food companies has tripled to 403 in the last six years till the end of 2006, and 46 of them had revenue of more than 100 million yuan (US$13.15 million) a year. More products from the province are meeting the country's green or organic food criteria.


Last year alone, 1,122 got the approval, recording a year-on-year increase of 6.5 percent.


The province has the ambition of becoming a global green food giant, and has plans to make all its yields meet the national standards for the use of pesticides by the end of this year, Sun says.


"This means pesticide residue in Heilongjiang's agri-products will pass the national inspection test and pose no harm to health."


He expects the overseas sale of green food to reach 3.2 million tons in the first six months of the year and earn a revenue of more than 9 billion yuan (US$1.18 billion). "Our main overseas markets are neighboring Russia and the Republic of Korea, as well as Southeast Asian countries."


But Heilongjiang still needs to take some steps to tap the European Union and US markets because they are more lucrative, even though they have a much higher health criteria.


Green food kiosks have become a hotspot at the ongoing 18th China Harbin Fair for Trade and Economic Cooperation, drawing thousands of visitors from around the world. Green food companies actually take up almost one-third of all the kiosks, Sun says.


The total amount of transaction just on Saturday should give an idea about how big the green food industry in Heilongjiang has become: 16 green food contracts signed for a whopping 6.86 billion yuan (US$900 million).


(China Daily June 18, 2007)

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