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Harbin’s agri-products going global

Fu Chao and Tian Xuefei
Updated: Sep 16,2014 12:51 PM     China Daily

The Harbin World Agriculture Expo emphasizes on natural food.China Daily

More Chinese cities as well as countries and regions overseas can enjoy green and organic food produced in Harbin due to efforts by the city government to build a large modern food storage and distribution system.

The system includes a food logistics center with an annual handling capacity of more than 1 million tons, three distribution centers with a combined annual handling capacity of 1.5 million tons and 11 grain depots each with a storage capacity of 200,000 tons.

It also signed a contract with Jiangsu Yurun Group, one of the leading food processing companies in China, to establish a global farm product procurement and cold-chain logistics center that will serve more than 80 distribution routes and have a daily handling capacity of 300,000.

A 100,000-ton cold storage room and 50,000-square-meter in support facilities are now under construction.

Another Jiangsu company-BGX Logistics Development Co-has invested nearly 1.3 billion yuan ($212 million) to start a logistics park in the city.

Qian Hao, a regional general manager of the company, said many consumers in southern China are especially fond of rice and other specialties from Heilongjiang, but the price is very high without direct distributing channels, so “our project aims to satisfy the market demands while lowering costs”.

Long a national agricultural base, the capital of Heilongjiang province is known for its conditions to grow world-class rice, corn and soybeans due to its abundant water, beneficial weather and fertile black soil.

More than 90 percent of the city’s farmland is organic-rich black soil.

The city government also made efforts to bring more real benefits to local citizens and increase the income of farmers by helping supermarkets set up partnerships with local rural cooperatives.

A flagship store for local green food opened in April offering fresh high-quality fruit and vegetables with similar price charged in morning markets. The store manager said most of the commodities are brought directly from farmers through the rural cooperatives to bypass all middlemen, so the price can be 15 percent to 20 percent lower than in other markets.

Large supermarkets such as Carrefour, Walmart and RT-Mart have also established cooperatives.

The initiatives have helped farmers increase their income by 30 percent, local officials said.

Peng Chunhui, deputy director of the province’s leading farm product logistics company, called for a diverse and professionally organized distribution channel in today’s “cross-border era”.

While the logistics chain continues to mature, farmers in Wuchang have already started at least 400 online stores selling the area’s famous rice.

Peng suggested that they should revamp their business model to O2O-online to offline-to attract even more clients.