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Diplomats 'Impressed' by Ecoagriculture
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Dozens of foreign diplomats to China said they were impressed by a Beijing village's use of ecoagriculture during a science and technology tour there Thursday.

Organized by the Beijing Association for Science and Technology, the tour attracted more than 50 foreign diplomats from some 30 countries including Australia, Italy, Japan, France and the United Kingdom.

They visited farmers' homes and set foot on the fields to sample the fruits of ecoagriculture at the Cherry Valley Village of Mentougou district in eastern Beijing.

As its name suggests, the village's income comes mainly from cherry planting. And thanks to the hi-tech and environmentally friendly measures introduced in recent years, it has become one of the most prosperous villages in Beijing.

Roberto Coisson, the science and technology counselor with the Italian Embassy in Beijing, said: "I am deeply impressed by the good living environment of the farmers here; big houses, clean streets and trees everywhere.

"It is great that solar energy street lamps are installed in the village and solar water heaters and solar-powered ovens can be seen in farmers' homes," he said.

The bright red cherries also provided the diplomats with a sweet memory; many could not resist picking them straight from the trees and popping them into their mouths.

As chemical fertilizers and pesticides have been totally replaced by biological and physical measures during planting, the fruits grow larger and sweeter with a brilliant red color.

Over the past 15 years, cherry planting has turned this once poverty-stricken village into a wealthy one.

The average yearly income of most people in the village is now as high as 10,000 yuan (US$1,300).

The village introduced quality varieties of cherries from Shandong Province in 1992 and asked for technological support from the Beijing Agriculture Science Institute to help farmers improve their planting techniques, Li Quanjun, the village head said.

"We grow the best quality cherries and attract lots of buyers every year," Li said.

"We sold 40,000 kg of them in just two weeks last May, even though they were more expensive than those from other villages."

(China Daily June 1, 2007)

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