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China points to woody plants for food security


09:59, November 03, 2011

BEIJING, Nov. 2 (Xinhua) -- China, the world's most populous nation, is looking to attract more social capital to develop the woody plants industry, a government official said Wednesday.

Zhao Chucong, vice chief of the State Forestry Administration, said the food and edible oil extracted from woody plants play "a strategically important role in ensuring the country's food security."

But capital is a precondition that supports the great development of the sector, Zhao said during the on-going China International Forestry Industry Fair in the city of Yiwu, Zhejiang province.

Zhao said the country will encourage social capital to engage in the sector so that enhanced investment can boost the sector's growth.

China is rich in woody plant resources and has a long history of growing such trees, including tea trees, walnut trees, Chinese date and chestnut trees. The country boasts more than 200 types of woody plants, of which about a half of them yield food, according to Zhao.

The value of the sector last year reached 16.5 billion yuan (2.6 billion U.S. dollars) as of the end of last year, while the total acreage for woody plants reached 143 million mu (9.5 million hectares), he said.

He said the government would encourage a batch of leading companies to build bases for the processing of food and oil from woody plants and promote cooperation between companies and local farmers.

In northwest Gansu province, the government is already offering favorable policies to the companies in land use, credit and financing.

Due to differences of geography and climate across the large expanse of China's territory, Zhao said the southern regions will prioritize the production of tea oil, while the north would focus on walnut trees and the production of olive oil.

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