Farmers meeting worldwide standards

CHEN JIERU, a farmer from the remote mountainous area of east China’s Anhui province, can barely contain his excitement at learning that his tea has received certification from the Swiss Institute for Market ecology (IMO).  

Though their village is encircled by hills, Chen and other farmers in Qiyun Village, Jinzhai County, know their methods and crop are up to international standards.  

“The tea I grow according to international standards has a delicate fragrance and sells very well abroad,” Chen says.  

Though Qiyun has just 300 households, its 34.9ha of tea plantations have been awarded the IMO organic certification.  

Wang Qiuhua, the IMO’s delegate in China, said the IMO was a globally-acknowledged organisation conducting authoritative tests, which would provide a “green” pass for China’s tea exports.  

Since China entered the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 2001, an increasing number of domestic farmers have started to adjust their farming methods with government guidance.  

Voluntarily conforming to international standards, Chinese farmers have successfully cultivated high-quality fruits, vegetables, tea and grain crops, which are exported to all over the world. 

The country has made big strides in agricultural development by caring more about quality than quantity.  

Anhui agronomist Wang Jun said farming in accordance with international standards was an important step to enhancing the competitiveness of China’s labour-intensive produce.  

Due to a long-term shortage of cultivation and management technologies, much Chinese produce were hindered in their access to foreign markets as they failed to meet international standards in certain environmental or ecological indices, leading to huge economic losses of over 10 billion yuan (RM4.6bil).  

Shouguang city, in east China’s Shandong province, has suffered such losses.  

A US business group had intended to purchase 40 tonnes of Chinese dates from local farmers last year, but finally rejected the deal after discovering that hormone and pesticide residues in the dates seriously exceeded international standards.  

Strict restrictions on entering global markets and intense competition have forced Chinese farmers to transform their under-developed modes of production. 

Chen said, “I now adopt biological methods to prevent diseases and pests instead of using traditional fertilisers or chemicals. Therefore, the tea I grow is free from pollution and fully conforms to international standards.”  

Jinzhai County has altogether 232.7ha of tea plantations with IMO certification, and the tea is sold to the United States, Europe, Japan and south-east Asian areas. – People's Daily  

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