The Chinese Government will invest 5 billion yuan (US$600 million) in the next few years to further develop the orange grove and animal husbandry industries in the Three Gorges area to create jobs for hundreds of thousands of resettled residents.
Qi Lin, deputy director of the Three Gorges Project Construction Committee under the State Council, said that State backing for these industries has been jointly planned by the State Development Planning Commission and the ministries of agriculture and science and technology to improve the lives of residents who were displaced to make way for the construction of the world's largest hydroelectric power project and to develop a sustainable economy in the dam area.
More than 100,000 workers will be laid off by over 500 technically backward firms in the dam area of the massive hydroelectric project, which have been ordered to shut down by the end of this year because of their serious pollution problems and outdated production technologies, said the project regulatory official.
At the same time, 80,000 rural residents will be moving into new resettlement townships this year, which will further add to the unemployment problem in the area.
Noting that the area is one of the best orange-cultivation areas in the world, Qi Lin said that of the total government appropriation, 3.8 billion yuan (US$460 million) would be allocated to the development of the orange industry. It will take eight to 10 years to establish the industry, which will have an annual processing capacity of 5 million tons of oranges, according to the plan.
China's largest privately-owned juice producer, the Huiyuan Beverage and Food Co, signed a deal earlier this year to build a 1 million-ton orange processing plant in the Three Gorges area, which will be the largest orange processing plant in Asia when it is completed around 2010.
China's juice producers rely heavily on the import of juice extract, especially of oranges, to produce fruit juice drinks, said Qi. The production line of Huiyuan will not only put an end to this dependence on imported juice extract, but will also create a large number of jobs in the dam area. Another 1.1 billion yuan (US$132 million) will be used to develop animal husbandry, with a goal of breeding 1 million cattle, 4 million sheep, 3.3 million rabbits and 5 million geese.
(China Daily September 23, 2002)