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Agricultural Ministry Wants Better, More Food
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China's livestock sector will be further scrutinized this year under a raft of plans aimed at producing better, healthier food.

The Ministry of Agriculture said yesterday it wanted more "scientific and standardized stock breeding" to combat disease and poor food quality.

"It's of great importance to people's health," Chen Weisheng, the director of the ministry's Animal & Husbandry Department, said.

China's animal husbandry industry has been confronted in recent years by aggravated risks of animal diseases and a spate of animal products safety crises.

About 40 percent of the country's poultry is raised in scattered, small courtyard farms in substandard conditions, making them vulnerable to possible contagious diseases, like the bird flu virus.

To combat the risks, the State Council in January revealed new plans to promote the healthy and sustainable development of the sector.

It is a "top priority" on the nation's agriculture working agenda, Chen said.

"The move would prompt a change of the outdated rearing methods, forcing the industry to get on a healthy and sustainable track," said Chen, citing the poultry-raising sector.

"The deep-rooted habit of humans living in close contact with fowl and livestock should be changed to avert possible cross-contagions. The scale and standardized stock breeding comes to key solution."

The use of foodstuffs, additives and medicines for livestock production will also be put under strict technical standards.

Animal husbandry has become a pillar industry of China's rural economy. Its output value exceeded 1,400 billion yuan (US$163 billion) last year, accounting for 34 percent of the nation's total agricultural output.

Currently, there are more than 100 million farmers in the animal husbandry industry in China.

The average farmer makes about 600 yuan (US$77) each year from livestock production, about 30 percent of the farmer's total household income.

(China Daily March 1, 2007)

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