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More Chinese farmers using the internet to sell produce

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

More Chinese farmers using the internet to sell produce

Related tags: China

Chinese farmers are increasingly taking to the internet to boost their income from their harvests.

Backed by the finance and commerce ministries, which have announced 200 rural areas as demonstration bases for agricultural e-commerce, some counties see up to one-third of their produce sold over the internet.

Last week, the State Council revealed plans to upgrade the internet services in rural areas by allocating more central funds to online infrastructure. It also advocated increased internet spending by local governments and social organisations. 

It also plans to invest up to Rmb140bn (US$22.8bn) by 2020 to provide at least 50,000 villages with Internet access to take 98% of rural areas online. The plan coincides with China’s target to help 70m rural residents out of poverty by 2020.

Though farming is going through a boom, with a decade worth of increases in production of summer grains, inefficient sales channels, a shrinking labour population and lack of access to loans have been squeezing farmers' earnings.

In 2014, the disposable income of rural residents rose 9.2% year on year to Rmb10,489 (US$1,650), less than half of that of urbanites, according to state news agency Xinhua. By the end of that year, nearly 30% of China's rural population had gone online.

Planners expect e-commerce to enable farmers to sell their produce quickly, and allows them to shop around for materials and obtain small loans more easily.

By the end of June, China had 668m internet users, equating to almost half of the population. Total e-commerce transaction volume in 2014 grew by almost 60% to Rmb16.39tn (US$2.6tn).

China's cabinet unveiled an "Internet plus" action plan at the beginning of July to target the integration of the internet with traditional sectors to make them smarter and more efficient. Along with manufacturing, agriculture was on the top of the list.

Unesco status to be sought for Confucius’s family cuisine

China is preparing a bid for the family cuisine of ancient philosopher Confucius to be listed by Unesco as intangible cultural heritage.

A committee has been established to standardise Confucius's family cuisine, and now preparations are being made to submit an application to Unesco.

"It will take at least three years to prepare before we file the application to Unesco​," Liu Deguang, the committee’s director, told a food conference in Jinan. 

Liu added that the group will hire teams to collect historical materials and promote standardised production.

Confucius’s family cuisine developed due to the frequent visits by China's emperors and distinguished guests at his home. The huge number of banquets served there gave his family the opportunity to develop its own style of formal cuisine.

Cooking Confucius family cuisine is complex and time consuming. One banquet consists of 196 dishes. These are all served on special silvered porcelain plates, and dining etiquette and manners have been passed down by Confucius's descendants over more than 2,000 years.

HK warns consumers over poisoned slimming pills

Hong Kong’s health department has urged consumers not to buy the Nutri Drops Grapefruit Diet slimming product after it was found to contain potentially dangerous ingredients. 

Ongoing tests at a government lab revealed that a sample of the product contained the banned drugs sibutramine and phenolphthalein.

Sibutramine is listed as a Part 1 poison and was once used as an appetite suppressant. Since November 2010, products containing sibutramine have been banned in Hong Kong because of increased cardiovascular risk. 

Phenolphthalein was used previously to treat constipation, but was banned after it was found to cause cancer. 

Part 1 poisons can only be sold in a pharmacy under the supervision of a registered pharmacist. Their illegal sale is a criminal offence, the maximum penalty for which is a fine of HK$100,000 and two years' imprisonment. 

"All registered pharmaceutical products should carry a Hong Kong registration number on the package in the format of 'HK-XXXXX'​," said a health department spokesman.

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