NANCHANG, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- For generations, Chinese farmers have spared no efforts to increase the weight of their produce to boost profits, now they are turning in the opposite direction -- making them slimmer.
Organic fathead fish, 20 to 30 percent lighter than those raised with fodder, were a big hit in the Shanghai market during the Spring Festival holiday that started on Monday.
The organic fish, with a darker color and smaller stomach, is tastier than traditional fish and sells for double the price, 30 yuan (4.4 U.S. dollars) per kilo, said Yang Peilin, head of the Jiujiang Zhelinhu Ecological Fishing Co. Ltd.
"Fodder is forbidden here and the fish are raised in net cages," Yang said. "It takes between two months and one year for the fish to lose weight."
Yang produced 500,000 kg of organic fathead fish in about 267 hectares of water last year, which is still not enough to meet the rising market demand.
"We now procure fish from other places and make them lose weight here," said Yang, who reaped about 5 million yuan in profits last year.
Chinese people are willing to pay more for higher quality products, as they are getting rich and have higher expectation of food quality, said Yang, who has raised fish for more than 20 years.
"Keeping on a diet" is also popular in rice planting.
In Wannian County, the once undesirable paddy rice fields on the hillside, which have lower yields and temperature, have become farmer favorites.
"Those fields have no pollution, less pests and are perfect for organic rice planting," said Luo Huimin, who gave up his job at a factory in the southern city of Dongguan and returned to his hometown to start his own business.
The rice planted on the hillside fields is sold at 50 to 100 yuan per kilo, a price 10 to 20 times that of ordinary rice as they have better taste and quality, said Luo.
From "putting on weight" to "losing weight," the change of China's farm produce planting reflects people's aspiration for a better life and is the future trend for China's agriculture, said Fu Huiyun, head of the Jiangxi Provincial Fishery Sciences Institute.