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Organic foods a growing trend
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There are now more than 30 organic farms in Shanghai. Three years ago there were just five, officials with the Shanghai Quality Certificate Center of Agriculture Products said yesterday.

Organic vegetables, fruit, rice, barley, soybeans and other foods are available at many local supermarkets and are being exported to other countries and regions.

"Before 2005, most organic farms in Shanghai were small-scale, like 100 mu (66,667 square meters) or 200 mu," He Wenlong, a researcher at Nanjing Agriculture University, told the Shanghai Morning Post. "Now large-scale farms are appearing as some big venture capital enters the industry. It's not rare to see farms of 1,000 mu or 2,000 mu."

A director in the food department of Carrefour Shanghai, Zeng Zhaodong, said sales of organic vegetables were increasing each year. In the 19 local outlets, the sales volume of organic vegetable was 5 to 7 percent of all vegetables, while sales amounted to about 22 percent because prices were up to five times higher.

Sales in Gubei, Jinqiao and Lianyang areas were even better because of the number of foreigners and white collars who lived there, Zeng said.

"Most of our vegetables come from our vegetable production center in Minhang District, which is cultivated completely organically," said an official surnamed Guo in City Shop, a leading retailer of imported food in Shanghai. "We also supply these vegetables to supermarkets in other provinces or cities."

Most farms are in city suburbs such as Jiading, Qingpu and Jinshan, as the cultivation of organic food requires a clean environment, said Lu Zhengrong, director of the Shanghai Agriculture Technology Promotion Center.

"Soil to cultivate organic foods cannot have high content of heavy metal, and it needs to be some distance from roads," Lu said.

"Shanghai has a strong road network compared to other cities, which puts restriction on the selection of farm sites."

Lu said that soil which had once been treated with chemical fertilizer or pesticides, needed three years before being used for organic crops hence the higher prices charged.

(Shanghai DailyJanuary 7, 2009)


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