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Development of modern agriculture in Shanghai

Oct 12, 2017

The Shanghai Municipal Government’s Information Office held a press conference on September 20 on the development of modern agriculture in Shanghai. Following are the highlights:

 Zhang Guokun, director, Shanghai Agricultural Commission

Lu Ming, inspector, Shanghai Agricultural Commission

Farmer’s Daily: Recently we selected a topic, we found a highlight of the supply side reform in agriculture of Shanghai, which is shifting from selling rice with husk to selling rice without husk. My first question is when will the new rice be sold this year? What characteristics do they have compared with recent years? My second question is what will the Shanghai Agricultural Commission do to improve the quality and brand image as each district has its own rice brand?

Lu Ming: Thank you for your questions. You asked two questions: one is the strategy shift from selling rice with husk to selling rice without husk, the other is about brand. The Shanghai Agricultural Commission regards the shift from selling rice with husk to selling rice without husk as a key work for the period based on the following reasons.

First, shifting from selling rice with husk to selling rice without husk is a forceful exploration of the deepening supply side reform in agriculture. The aim of the reform is to make new improvement on the original supply. For example, earlier we needed to produce more grain to fill mouths. Now all of us have enough food, so the demand shifts to producing rice which is safe and of high quality and taste, thus supply meets market demand.

Second, it’s a practice of merging the development of primary, secondary and service industry. From production, processing to sales, integrative development is a trend for agriculture. The key is the intersection and fusion of industry to raise added value and extend the industry chain.

Third, it’s an important step for the strategy of shifting from “selling rice in husk” to “selling rice without husk” with brand, quality and variety. The Shanghai Agricultural Commission has been very active and has pushed forward the work as a key for the period. We want a breakthrough so that farmers can have more income and Shanghai residents are more satisfied with the quality of rice.

In recent years, the planting area of rice in Shanghai has remained stable at around 1.4 million mu with an output of 800,000 tons, which produces around 500,000 tons of rice. The amount is around a fifth of the total consumption in Shanghai. This year our target is to increase the amount of the early-maturing variety. And we hope to have a duplicable and extendable marketing model for coming years.

This year the selling period for new rice is between September 22 and October 22. As the rice from other parts of China is yet to come, we are trying to lead the selling spree. Compared with the traditional model, this time we have four highlights:

First, we will make sure the product quality is traceable. The quality of new rice produced in Shanghai this year has reached or exceeded national standard. Seven rice producers sell their products through the Bailian chain. All the new rice products are traceable with clear signs on the package, so it is convenient for buyers.

Second, all the packages are unified in design, considering that Shanghai residents are careful in selecting commodities. All the new rice products are packaged in two types, one is for 1 kilograms and another is for 2.5kg. Meanwhile, the seven rice producers have added information such as production area, variety and name of the producer on the packages.

Third, we have adopted a lowest guidance price for the retail sector. With the high quality, taste and retraceable feature of the rice, we need a reasonable price to make it sustainable. We have set a preliminary lowest price for organic rice at 12 yuan for 500 grams, environment-friendly rice at 10 yuan for 500 grams and pollution-free rice at 8 yuan for 500 grams.

Fourth, the sales channel has been fully integrated with the Bailian Group’s system. We have signed an agreement with Bailian for selling the rice online and offline. Our aim is to explore ways to accumulate experience.

We plan to make a unified brand of new rice in Shanghai within 3 years. And the experience will be expanded to vegetables and fruits so that locals can have more and better locally-produced agricultural products.

The second question is about brand, and we have several measures to build brands.

First is to meet the market demand fully.

Second is to make use of technology. We are cooperating with research institutes from home and abroad as well as universities to do the work.

Third is to carry out the work with leading enterprises, cooperatives and family farms.

Fourth is to focus on service, including the service before, during and after production. So the government is trying to set up a platform for people from all walks of society to participate and support the work.

With the above mentioned measures we have made some progress. So far we have built several brands, including 8424 watermelon from Nanhui, juicy peach from Nanhui, Malu grape, hyacinth bean from Peng Town, rice from Songjiang, strawberry from Baihe, cane shoots from Liantang, flat peach from Jinshan, yellow peach from Fengxian, honey pear from Zhuanghang and hairy crab from Chongming.

The work will be continued, and we hope we can raise agriculture development to a new level.

Shanghai Morning Post: Food safety is one of the most pressing and public problems, what measures have you adopted in recent years to accelerate the development of agriculture in an environment-friendly and organic way to keep pesticide residue within the national standard?

Lu Ming: The safety and quality of agricultural products is considered very important across the nation and by people from all walks of life. In general, the quality of agricultural products in Shanghai is safe. We have taken a series of measures, mainly including three aspects:

First is to push forward the safety and quality of agricultural products. After we successfully set up a food safety area in Jinshan of Pudong New Area, we have expanded the practice to other areas as well. We undertook a thorough check recently, which proved to be very good.

Second is to raise the level of standardized production. On the one hand we improve the agricultural standard system and accelerate the construction of a scientific unified agricultural standard system. One of the most important steps is to set up a national agricultural standardization production base on Chongming Ecological Island. On the other hand we need to develop steadily on the path to complete the exit mechanism and make the system trustworthy with a good reputation.

Third is to strengthen the supervision of quality and safety of agricultural products. One is to strengthen the supervision and risk evaluation of agricultural products by supervision, random inspections and carrying out emergency evaluation. Second is to push forward the construction of a traceability system on agricultural product quality and safety. Digital system covering production will be set up to trace the quality and flow of products. Third is to set up a municipal-level supervision platform for agricultural products. And we will set up an information system on production, testing, certification and supervision to supervise producers from all sides.

With the systematic measures we will ensure the quality and safety of locally produced agricultural products.

Zhang Guokun: I have one point to add. Shanghai is one of the strictest cities in China on food safety. The certification ratio on pollution-free agricultural products, green products, organic products and geographical indication is relatively high in Chinese cities. All the information has been published in order.

A shortcoming is on the side of structural reforms. Though we have reached above the lowest level of pollution-free food safety standard, the improvement of the ratio is not high enough. So our key work is to improve the level to make greener, organic agricultural products.

Shanghai Daily: How will Chongming Island develop modern and green urban agriculture during the eco-island construction?

Zhang Guokun: As we all know, Chongming aims to build a world-class ecological island with an integrated ecosystem and industrial characteristics.

There is much scope for improvement in Chongming’s agricultural industrial structure. The district leaders have reached a consensus that the island will be built into the city’s major production base for green agricultural products.

However, there is still much work to do to achieve the goal. Chongming’s district committee and government are determined to develop ecology and green urban agriculture as its leading industries. The district is now working on the plan for the green urban agriculture industry. By 2020, the proportion of quality green agricultural products will be greatly increased.

Chongming will make following efforts on agricultural production. First, the district will increase the proportion of organic agricultural product supply through production base construction to meet the demand for urban consumption differentiation and upgrading. It will actively develop local agricultural brands.

Second, Chongming will further improve comprehensive production capacity by focusing on construction of ecological agricultural bases in light of local agricultural product supply and residents’ consumption demands.

Third, the district will promote the integration of agricultural industries, extend the industry chain and build a rural complex combining circular agriculture, innovations and science popularization to increase revenue and added value of products.

Fourth, Chongming will be built into a new focus of agriculture science and technologies and a model for application of modern agricultural technologies.

Jiefang Daily (Shanghai Observer): How will the 13th Five-Year Plan for agriculture put forward last year be implemented? What measures will the city take in the second half of this year?

Zhang Guokun: Currently, the index of the city’s agricultural development has been quantified. In order to realize the 13th Five-Year Plan objectives, we have a lot of work to do. Agricultural production spaces and elements have made great contributions to the city’s rapid urbanization. The improvement of agricultural industry planning has been our first priority.

For example, when we provide resources for urban construction and development, our work on the optimal allocation of resources falls behind. Besides, the fragmentation of vegetable production is a major concern at present as traditional suburban vegetable production bases have been occupied. Facing these problems during the study of 13th Five-Year Plan, we realized that we still need to focus on improving the city’s agricultural planning.

There are national-level requirements for agricultural development in “three areas.” As the Ministry of Agriculture requires, the first is the functional area of food production. The second is the protection area of important agricultural products and the third is the advantageous area of characteristic agricultural products.

However, food varieties are different from region to region. The important agricultural products of Shanghai are cotton, oil and sugar which are commonly imported by other regions across the country. What are the basic guidelines for the city’s future agricultural planning? First of all, we should ensure that the required grain production capacity of functional areas is in accordance with national strategies.

Secondly, the disadvantage and weak point lies in vegetable production.    Next, we will attach more importance to the development of protection area for vegetable production and increase the number of vegetable varieties.

The “three areas” construction is a very important task as a part of the 13th Five-Year Plan. We will take into account several relations on the premise that grain production capacity will not be reduced. The first is the relationship between grain and vegetables and the others are relationships between grain and other economic crops. We will further deepen and improve the planning, focus on the reform of supply-front and strengthen the construction of functional areas and protected areas. It is our goal to effectively increase the supply of green agricultural products. In addition, we need to take measures to improve the quality of agricultural products and ensure favorable prices.

We will not only adjust the allocation of elements and resources but also introduce financial capital in the production of green agricultural products through gradual improvement and reform of public financial policies. Besides, we have also done some data analysis on the quantitative index. What about the development status of rural tourism of Shanghai? What measures will be taken to improve the quality of rural tourism?

Lu Ming: Currently, the city has a total 358 leisure agriculture and rural tourism projects. Last year, the city's leisure agriculture and tourism projects received 19 million visitors totaling 1.392 billion yuan of yearly revenue and motivated 16,300 local farmers.

Efforts will be made in four aspects. The works will involve not only the Shanghai Agricultural Commission but also many other departments such as the Municipal Planning and Land Resources Bureau, the Municipal Tourism Bureau and the Municipal Development and Reform Commission.

Firstly, we will research and formulate supporting policies for leisure agriculture and rural tourism development. Since 2015, we have made clear relevant tasks and measures by formulating implementation opinions jointly with relevant departments on developing multiple functions of the leisure agriculture industry.

Secondly, we will start the layout planning of the city’s leisure agriculture and rural tourism facilities in conjunction with the Shanghai Municipal Planning and Land and Resources Administration, the Municipal Tourism Bureau, the Municipal Greening and City Appearance Administration on the basis of status quo, industrial targets and project implementation. We will also define strategic objectives, key areas, major projects and demand for facilities for leisure agriculture and rural tourism development.

Thirdly, we will implement land-use pilots for leisure agriculture and rural tourism layout planning. The first group of four pilot projects has achieved breakthroughs.

The fourth is to launch festivals and expo fairs to promote the development of the local leisure agriculture and rural tourism industries. In recent years, suburban areas in Shanghai have built their own agricultural tourism brands. Besides, the Yangtze River Delta Leisure Agriculture and Rural Tourism Fair has been held for three years since 2014 to display achievements of agricultural development. The festival has been hailed by residents and professional visitors.

Next, we will further promote the implementation of land-use pilots, formulate industrial standards and improve the quality of leisure agriculture and rural tourism.