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Chongming promotes organic products to urban homes

Chongming promotes organic products to urban homes

Zha Minjie

SHANGHAI residents will be able to find more locally grown, organic vegetables under plans to boost the downtown marketing of produce from Chongming Island, which is being developed as an environmentally friendly enclave.

The city has 175 stores selling the island's produce and will increase that number to 500 to 700 in the coming five years, said Zhao Qi, head of Chongming County government.

"More idle farmworkers on the island will be organized for food production and sales," said Zhao.

As food safety has become a bigger concern of urban residents, organic food is finding bigger demand, officials said. Some downtown residents even rent farmland on the island to grow their own vegetables.

Zhao added the county also encourages farmers to go into business hosting urban dwellers looking for a farm experience on the weekends.

Shanghai's long-term plans call for Chongming to become an ecological haven, with heavy industries gradually being removed. That leaves the island fewer options for economic development, but means it must develop its farm products and some limited tourism.

Three years into 10-year projects that started in 2010, the island's environment has improved, officials said. The projects include cleaning of water channels, planting forestry areas, improvement of farms and stronger environmental supervision.

To eliminate pollution sources, the county government has shut down 106 enterprises and factories and will close some ship docks, according to the city reform and development commission.

However, waste management still lags behind, according to an evaluation report by the commission. Most of garbage is buried without being processed. A waste incineration facility will be built to address the problem, said county officials.

The island also hopes to boost its reputation as a wildlife haven.

"The island is one of the best places to observe migratory birds," said Fang Fang, the deputy director of Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau.

In the long term, a Metro line is being studied to link to the island, which now has a population of about 700,000.

Zhao said the Metro, an extension of planned Line 19, is still under discussion because of the concerns over "low passenger volume and a relatively large investment." A place for possible Metro tracks has been reserved on the Changjiang Tunnel-Bridge, the only fast road link to the island.


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