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China promotes nitrogen moderation in grain preserves

(Xinhua)

10:34, October 17, 2011

BEIJING, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- China Grain Reserve Corp. (Sinograin), manager of the central government's grain and edible oil reserves, is actively pushing forward nitrogen and temperature controls for more efficient grain storage.

Sinograin is promoting such methods in efforts to reduce food losses during the process of grain preservation. The company has so far stored up to 3.5 billion kilograms of grains with the nitrogen moderation method, a report provided by the company to Xinhua on Sunday said.

Nitrogen usually stays unreactive. By replacing oxygen with nitrogen in sealed storage space, the food can remain in better conditions for a longer time because the method slows the decomposition of food.

Government data showed that Chinese farmers used to lose as much as 10 percent of their grain harvest due to unscientific storage methods.

The report said that the company has so far started preserving corn, soybeans, and wheat with nitrogen controls after the method was first applied with the rice storage.

It also said that the company has begun the construction of a 2-billion kilogram nitrogen-based grain reserve project this year.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the UN World Food Programme, all stressed the importance of reducing the losses of grains after harvest in a jointly released report before the World Food Day that is celebrated each year on Oct. 16.

The Sinograin report said that nitrogen moderation could be a new chapter for the safety of food storage and food saving.

The report said the company is now also using temperature controls to better preserve grains across the country. In northern China, more than 80 percent of the grains are stored with temperature controls, up nearly 30 percentage points compared to five years ago.

It said that food rotting will slow if they are kept under a stable and controlled temperature of below 20 degrees Celsius.

The nitrogen and temperature techniques are improvements compared with the previous ways once used to store grains, including the use of chemical agents, which could contaminate food and cause environmental pollution.

The report said that most branch companies of Sinograin are ditching chemical agents for food storage in the north of the country, while the southern provinces are reducing the use of them.

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