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Major Farm Produce Exporter Sets Quality-related Planting Standards

Shandong Province, a major farm agricultural exporter in east China, has published planting standards for 16 types of exported agricultural products aimed at meeting the quality requirements of importing countries, said a provincial agricultural official.

The standards on spinach, scallions, garlic, tomatoes, ginger and other items were set on the basis of the import standards of the United States, Europe, Japan and the Republic of Korea over the past three years, said Yang Luyong, deputy director of the international cooperation office of the Shandong Provincial Agricultural Department.

The standards stipulate in detail the selection of planting fields and the use of fertilizers and pesticides, the official said.

"The introduction of the standards will help reduce quality-related hurdles that China's exported agricultural products encounter due to previously non-standard production processes," Yang said.

The standards have been adopted by 82 exporting companies around the province with a total planting area of 420,000 hectares. Nine of these standards would be promulgated nationally among about 200 million farmers next year, according to Yang.

Shandong's farm exports account for around one-fourth of the country's total each year. In the first half of 2007, the province exported US$4.25 billion of farm produce, a year-on-year rise of 18.2 percent.

The China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Foodstuffs, Native Produce and Animal By-Products estimates farm exports will rise 18 to 20 percent year-on-year in 2007, to about US$35 billion.

China's industries have been hit in recent years by reports about substandard products, especially food, such as vegetables containing pesticide residue and fish and animal feed containing poisonous chemicals.

Following these incidents, the government began a four-month special campaign nationwide on Aug. 23 to improve product quality and food safety and introduced a food recall system on Aug. 31.

Li Changjiang, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine director, said: "The building of credit systems should assume an important position in developing food industry." He added that product quality "reflects man's morality and quality. Producers and dealers should be responsible for the people."

Li made his comments on Thursday during a quality inspection tour in Nanjing, capital of eastern Jiangsu Province.

At the end of last month, the State Council approved, in principle, a draft law on food safety to address "weak points" in food production, processing, delivery, storage and sales.

(Xinhua News Agency December 29, 2007)

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