Middlemen traders help boost distribution of food

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 April, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 April, 1998, 12:00am

The emergence of middlemen in the fruit and vegetable trade has speeded up agricultural reforms and improved food distribution.

There were now more than 100,000 agents earning their living through transactions involving produce harvested in one area and sold in another, Xinhua reported.

The need for the middlemen sprang up in the late 1980s in the wake of poor distribution of food resources.

Food which was left to rot in the north was fiercely sought after in the south.

The growing of produce in increasingly remote and widely scattered areas underlined the demand for buyers to act on farmers' behalf. The middlemen also sell on the free market after peasants hand in crops for state-required quotas.

Tens of thousands of people work as temporary agents during the peak harvest season, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

In Gansu, more than 400,000 tonnes of vegetables are sold off to at least 20 other provinces each year through several thousand agents.

In addition to transferring food, the middlemen have formed 100,000 associations to transfer technology and pass on new management strategies to backward villages.

Vegetable plantations worth 250 billion yuan (HK$232.5 billion) cover 740,000 hectares of the mainland.