Weather hits food prices

0 CommentsPrint E-mail China Daily, January 7, 2010
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Vegetable prices have increased substantially as the worst snowstorm and cold front in a half-century hit part of the country since Jan 2. But so far, vegetable supplies are sufficient and stable.

In Beijing, the price of some vegetables, such as Chinese cabbage, cucumber, and eggplant, have risen by more than 30 percent.

"I bought cucumber for 2.6 yuan ($0.38) a kilogram at the end of December. However, the price has risen to 3.5 yuan a kilogram now," a customer in a Beijing food market told China Daily yesterday.

Similar price hikes also have appeared in other cities.

Most vegetable prices have increased in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, according to statistics from the city's price control administration.

Spinach saw the largest price hike yesterday, rising from 2.8 yuan to 5 yuan a kilogram.

In Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang province, most vegetables are priced nearly the same as peak prices during Spring Festival last year.

In Shouguang city, Shandong province, which is a main vegetable supplier for more than 50 cities, including Beijing, Tianjin and Jinan, the local vegetable output has been reduced by 30 percent.

"Since Jan 3, some vegetable growers started to complain that the plants in their green houses have withered and rotted due to the weather," said Sun Zhigang, director of the agriculture information center in Shouguang.

Measures against the cold have already been implemented, including more fertilizer and straw coverings to maintain the temperature of the land and prevent vegetables from frost damage, Sun said.

Bad road conditions were also a main reason for the rise in vegetable prices. The typical six- or seven-hour journey needed to transport vegetables from Shouguang to Beijing has this week taken up to 12 hours.

"At present, nearly 20 transport vehicles from the market have been stuck on the highways due to the heavy snow," said He Ming, manager of Shandong Shouguang Vegetable Wholesale Market, who added the road conditions seem to be improving.

Fortunately, the current vegetable supply was ample and stable in most cities. According to the statistics from Xinfadi Agro Wholesale Market, the largest wholesale market in Beijing, more than 60 kinds of vegetables, weighing in at 13.2 million kg, were available in the market yesterday. This is an increase of more than 1 million kg compared to the supply on Jan 2.

Efforts to ensure the country's wheat and vegetable safety have also been urged by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Seven special working teams to oversee and guide agricultural work have been dispatched to the eight provinces with major wheat and vegetable production, including Hebei, Liaoning, Jiangsu, Shandong and Anhui.

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