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Guangzhou Rolls Out Pork Subsidy
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Guangzhou will give a monthly subsidy of 20 yuan (US$2.6) to every low-income-earning family for the period from May to July to help offset the higher prices of pork and other non-staple foods.

The move is part of the city's efforts to minimize the negative impacts of rising commodities prices, especially as they effect low-income earners, said Chen Weiqiu, an official with the Guangzhou municipal government's news and information department.

The city government has also been trying to diversify the supply channels for pork and other foods, while simultaneously combating stockpiling by speculators and profiteers, he said.

"The price of pork in the city has been about 13 yuan per kg in the past few days, which is down from the peak of 24 yuan per kg in early May," he said. "But that is still unbearable to low-income families."

He said the higher price of pork has driven up prices of other non-staple foods, which, together with the rising prices of vegetables, has squeezed low-income families in Guangzhou.

Sun Guoxiang, director of a price monitoring center in Guangzhou, said the rising cost of feed and the low pork prices in the past few years have made farmers reluctant to raise pigs.

Meanwhile, the recent outbreak of blue ear disease has directly reduced the supply of pigs.

Sun said the poor weather in the past two weeks had eaten into the supply of vegetables, resulting in similar price rises.

The Guangzhou Shopping Basket Pricing Center said choy sum, or flowering Chinese cabbage, a popular vegetable in south China, is selling for 6 yuan per kg compared with about 3 yuan a week ago.

Prices of other vegetables have grown by 20 percent to 50 percent since last week.

Sun was not optimistic that vegetable prices would return to normal in the coming month, saying summer is a rainy season in Guangzhou and that the demand from other Pearl River Delta cities would make a shortfall in the vegetable supply inevitable in the coming weeks.

"It is very likely that the vegetable price will shoot up by 200 percent in the coming month," Sun said.

(China Daily June 13, 2007)

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