CRI听力:Garlic Price Surges Show Need for Alarm System 简介：Garlic prices are soaring in most cities across the country, even exceeding the price of pork in some places. Farmers and wholesalers are profiting ni…
Garlic prices are soaring in most cities across the country, even exceeding the price of pork in some places. Farmers and wholesalers are profiting nicely, but the spike has also exposed potential risks that exist in the market. Currently, there is no alarm or prediction system for agriculture producers in China to share market information.
Let's take a closer look with reporter Liu Min.
A customer shopping at a vegetable market in Beijing is questioning the soaring price of garlic, a common kitchen seasoning. Now the price per kilogram has exceeded 15 yuan in the capital. A garlic retailer says,
"I've been selling garlic for years, and this is the first time I've seen such a high price."
Starting in July, many cities across the country have seen a sharp jump in garlic prices, with Nanjing topping the list at 26 yuan per kilogram. Garlic was only 20 to 30 cents per kilogram in 2003, and 50 cents in 2009; but now it has jumped to 10 yuan on average. Experts say, a main reason is that the market price two years ago was too low for farmers and wholesalers to profit. As a result, no one wanted to plant garlic – according to statistics, farmers reduced the proportion of land for growing garlic by 20 percent earlier this year. Cold weather this spring caused another 20 percent reduction in the garlic harvest. But even these market changes may not totally account for the price surge.
Speculators may have stockpiled garlic to resell it at a much higher price, pocketing huge profits. A garlic wholesaler says he is now facing a dilemma.
"The price at our wholesale center was more than six yuan per jin several days ago, but it has turned to 5 yuan and 56 cents these two days. If it drops below five yuan, then I will definitely lose money. There is a huge risk hiding. The higher the price, the higher the risk it'll have."
Jinxiang County is one of the main garlic production bases in Shandong Province. As local garlic farmers were happy about making extra profits on garlic sales, local Village Secretary Zhou Xuefeng was quite worried.
"I have a bad forecast. The garlic price this year has broken historical records. Then many farmers will expand their growing acreage to grow more garlic. If they do this blindly, it'll be disastrous next year."
But how can the prices of agricultural products keep a relatively stable level, while dodging the hidden risks in the market? Zhou Zhaosheng, vice president of the county Commercial Bureau, says so far no alarm system has been established in China.
"I think the government needs to build up an information alarm system concerning the agricultural market. Thus, farmers, wholesalers, and retailers can get useful information about the market and help avoid some risks." But Zhou Xuefeng says some already existing organizations can actually start taking some responsibility for initiating the system.
"For example, there are some social entities, like garlic farming and processing associations. The government should let them play their functions to share information as a platform for people to communicate with one another. It'll help balance demand and supply in the market, keeping agricultural product prices at a more stable level, which can further reduce investment risks."
Produce prices in China's 36 large and medium-sized cities rose for three consecutive weeks this May, according to a recent report from the Ministry of Commerce. Food prices have a 34-percent weight in China's consumer price index, or CPI, a major gauge of inflation. Before garlic, pork and cereals like green beans have also seen severe ups and downs in the market recently. Experts say it's time to establish a consistent alarm system to share information in the agricultural and animal husbandry industries to help stabilize the market price.