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Beijingers aid cabbage farmers
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2006-11-27 12:59

Driving through a flurry of snow early on Saturday in Beijing, a convoy of cars carried 50 passengers east out of the city to buy vegetables.

Their destination was the vegetable-producing farmland in suburban Tongzhou District.

After hearing that farmers were suffering huge economic losses due to the sluggish sales of Chinese cabbages this winter, groups of urban dwellers drove to the outskirts and bought as many of the vegetables as they could carry.

The citizens were following in the path of 60 other white-collar workers who first organized the activity the previous weekend.

They paid one yuan (12 US cents) for each cabbage.

"Last Sunday, we bought 400 cabbages. Half went to a local hospice and we took the other half home," said Fu Changbao, a manager and one of the organizers of the activity.

Almost all the participants said they had read an Internet posting saying "Chinese cabbages are being sold for only four cents (about half a US cent) per kilogram. Many are rotting in the fields. Why don't you buy one to eat?"

A Netizen named Liu Laoshi, meaning honesty, posted the appeal on He said he had met a vegetable farmer on the road and learned that excess stock had forced cabbage prices down to almost nothing.

"Even waste paper sells for 60 to 80 cents per kilogram," sighed Jiao Yuanzhi, a farmer from Chengezhuang Village of Daxing District in southern Beijing.

"When I deduct the cost of fertilizer, water, pesticide and labor, my efforts were in vain," said Jiao.

"A tractor of cabbages sells for only 40 yuan. Our time and effort are worth nothing, we are losing money," the farmer complained.

Fu said the posting and the activity had drawn a warm response from people not only in the capital but nationwide.

Some Internet writers called the activity "love-your-cabbage" and said it provided citizens with a new way to care for others, educate children and relax.

Some suggested setting up a cabbage hotline so that urban residents could order vegetables directly from farms, Fu said.

Analysts said the warm-hearted activity will have little impact on the market, but could help individual farmers. Other experts are questioning whether the municipal government has done enough to avoid this unfortunate situation.

The glut of cabbages is a classic case of supply-and-demand theory. After Chinese cabbages sold for 40 cents per kilogram last year, many farmers rushed to plant the vegetable. However, market demand has not risen this year and the overproduction has forced down prices, said Shi Keqiang, director of the Daxing District government's Vegetation Office.

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