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November 13, 2012

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City allows sale of cheap oranges at parks, helps Chongming farms

ORANGES grown in suburban Chongming County sold out within hours at discount prices after the city allowed farmers suffering from sluggish sales to sell their fruit at some parks in downtown Shanghai yesterday.

Long queues were seen at booths at the Zhongshan Park yesterday morning. More than 700 kilograms of oranges were sold out in two hours.

A woman surnamed Zhao said she bought 1 kilogram more after buying half a kilogram and tasting it.

"It is sweet," she said.

Another resident surnamed Shi bought 3 kilograms.

"It is so cheap," he said, explaining why he went home and came again with a trolley.

The fruits were sold at 2 yuan (32 US cents) a kilogram and some people bought 5 kilograms each.

Selling fruits at parks is normally banned, but the Shanghai Greenery and Public Sanitation Bureau was trying to help farmers avoid losses.

Zhu Jianhua, an official with the bureau, said it was also hoped that oranges from Chongming would be more popular after technologies were improved and organic fertilizer was used.

Many local residents preferred oranges from other parts of China as they believed Chongming oranges tasted sour and small.

Starting today, Yangpu Park and Fuxing Park will join the spots where oranges transported directly from Chongming will be sold in addition to Zhongshan Park and the Shanghai Botanical Garden.

The sales at these parks are expected to last until the end of November.

About 230,000 tons of oranges were harvested in the city due to good weather conditions, up 40 percent from last year, but less than 30 percent of the fruits have been sold so far. As a result, the prices had plummeted to 0.80 yuan to 1 yuan per kilogram in some places in Chongming.

Nearly 80 percent of oranges supplied in the local market were produced in Chongming, but sales turned sluggish again this year due to the county's location and limited sales channels.

Major orange production areas nationwide all reported harvests up this year, making supply surpass demand.

"Harvest, but nothing to celebrate," farmer Huang Zhangfei said with a sigh.

He said a box of oranges weighing 20 to 25 kilograms could be sold at least 40 to 50 yuan last year, compared with 20 to 30 yuan this year.

He said he had to sell them even at lower prices because the sales could be even slacker with weather turning colder.

Some farmers are trying new ways of selling oranges, such as resorting to online channels or exploring wholesale dealers.


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