Bitter winter blast hits the south hard

Updated: 2013-01-18 07:59

By He Na, Hu Yongqi and Zhang Yuchen (China Daily)

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Vegetable prices rising

The severe weather has also caused vegetable prices to rise in the south. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, the average price of 28 kinds of vegetables reached 4.25 yuan per kilogram on Jan 8 and has risen continuously for 10 weeks.

Since October, prices, especially for leaf vegetables, have risen by 50 percent at the biggest vegetable retail market in Shouguang, Shandong province. The increases look set to continue to Spring Festival, which starts on Feb 10.

In Nanning, capital city of the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, vegetable prices below 4 yuan per kg can no longer be found. Tomato, cucumber and cauliflower prices have all risen by 1 to 2 yuan per kg.

Factors influencing vegetable prices include bad weather en route, increased fees for long-distance transport, more expensive labor, and higher costs for management and wholesalers.

To tackle price increases, local authorities in Fuzhou, capital of Fujian province, opened a "green channel" on Jan 8 for vegetables, reducing the number of middlemen and transport costs. This involves the municipal government introducing a negotiation system to stabilize vegetable prices. When they fluctuate, the government is assigned staff to negotiate with wholesalers and retailers in setting affordable prices.

The system, being used by the Fuzhou government for the third time since 2010, ensures dealers sell at negotiated prices after buying from suppliers. The government then grants them tax relief and subsidies to compensate for the difference in the negotiated wholesale price and actual selling price.

Meanwhile, the National Meteorological Center said southern China will continue to experience snow, rain and freezing temperatures for the next few days.

Further freezing rain and snow has fallen on most parts of Guizhou province, affecting more than 570,000 people.

Disaster relief

Local governments have relocated more than 5,000 people in 24 counties to avoid possible risks, and have also set up 68 rescue stations to offer relief, including food and clothing to those in need.

The lingering cold weather has caused direct economic losses estimated at more than 77.76 million yuan, mainly in the agricultural sector, Xinhua News Agency quoted provincial civil affairs authorities as saying.

The central government has stepped in, with the Ministry of Civil Affairs sending 2,000 tents and 40,000 sheets and coats to help people suffering from severe cold in Jiangxi, Hunan and Guizhou provinces and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

And the ministries of Civil Affairs and Finance have earmarked 6.8 billion yuan for a relief fund to help disaster-stricken victims with food, clothing, heating and other basic needs for winter and spring. The first batch of the fund - 5.44 billion yuan - was allocated on Dec 4.

Han Junhong contributed to this story.

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