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China Plans More Methane Projects in Rural Area

The Chinese government will fund 2.6 million more rural households to build methane pits in 2007, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.


Wei Chao'an, vice minister of agriculture, said that the 2.6 million rural households would be selected from the western and major grain producing regions in the country.


The government will grant a subsidy ranging from 800 yuan (about US$100) to 1,200 yuan for each household to build one pit, in view of their locations, Wei said.


Governmental statistics show that a total of 18 million rural families had each built a methane pit by the end of 2005.


An eight-cubic-meter methane pit can provide 80 percent of the energy used by a four-member family in cooking annually. The 18 million methane pits produce energy equivalent to 10.9 million tons of coal and save 3.96 million hectares of forest.


Since the 1970s, China has been promoting the use of methane pits to process rural organic wastes.


Dunghill, which were common in most of rural China in the past, are no longer seen in places where people have built methane pits.


Wei said, methane pits changed human and animal wastes into "treasure"-- the gas generated in the pits is piped out for cooking, heating and even for lighting.


In the mean time, methane pits also serve as an important method to control spread of schistosomiasis and pig-borne bacteria streptococcus suis as well as other diseases in rural area, Wei said, adding that test shows methane pits can completely kill schistosome eggs.


According to the Ministry of Agriculture, there would be 50 million methane pits by 2010.


According to plan, the Ministry of Agriculture will select 10,000 villages to conduct pilot energy recycling projects, which are expected to popularize the use of clean energy and raise the treatment of wastes in rural areas.


(Xinhua News Agency February 23, 2007)

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