November 19, 2008


China spends RMB 500 million to beef up food safety surveillance


China will spend RMB 500 million (US$73.2 million) to build wide-ranging surveillance systems to ensure its agricultural products are safe, the agriculture ministry said.


As part of the recent RMB 4 trillion fiscal stimulus packages, the money is expected to spur a further RMB 165.4 million (US$24.2 million) in local investment, the website of Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday.


Quoting an unnamed source with the Ministry of Agriculture, the report said the money will be spent on are to further enhance China's capabilities and levels in inspecting the quality and safety of its agricultural products.


An earlier statement on the ministry website said the money will help set up 18 ministerial quality inspection centres, 15 at the provincial and 117 at the county level. Seven regional quality inspection projects will also be launched.


The funds are the first to beef up the quality and safety of the country's agricultural products, following the recent tainted milk scandal, which resulted in the resignation of Li Changjiang, chief of the country's top quality control agency.


Legislators have suggested establishing food safety commissions at different levels of government, and the draft of the food safety law is due to be passed next month.


The ministry has received a total of RMB 5.15 billion from the stimulus package, which it said will be used to improve rural infrastructure and the living conditions of farmers in the country.


The ministry source was quoted as saying that it plans to spend RMB 3 billion on rural methane projects. The goal is to offer household biogas to 2.25 million families in 1,212 counties, build more than 30,000 rural biogas service outlets in 1,496 counties, and launch methane projects for some 7,500 breeding farms in 675 counties.


The projects will be concentrated in areas south of the Yellow River, Xinhua said.


By year's end, these projects will have helped push the number of rural households that use biogas to 35 million, or 25 percent of the total.


Similarly, 1,600 breeding farms, or 13 percent of the total, will have become biogas users.

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