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New millet products promoted at Chinese agricultural expo

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HOHHOT, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Cakes, ice cream and beverages made out of millet are pitched as a trendy and healthy alternative to traditional foods at an ongoing expo in the city of Chifeng in north China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

"The demand for millet has been rising very fast, and many millet production centers have run out of supplies," Li Shutian, deputy head of Chifeng's Academy of Agricultural Sciences, said at the North China Agricultural Science and Technology Expo.

The three-day expo, which opened on March 29, features more than 900 exhibitors from China, the United States, Israel and the Netherlands, drawing about 100,000 visitors thus far.

Millet products wrapped in exquisite packaging and sold as high-end "green food" at the expo are priced between 14 and 20 yuan (2.20-3.10 U.S. dollars) per kg, much higher than the grain's wholesale price of 3.20 yuan per kg.

Li said millet processing companies have seen their profits rise as consumers become increasingly aware of the nutritional value of millet.

China has 1.3 million hectares of millet fields, accounting for 80 percent of the world's total, Li said.

He said the academy has developed a new variety of millet that can achieve higher yields, resulting in 9,000 kg of millet harvested per hectare.

"The academy is committed to improving crop breeding to ensure the plant's quality and yield," he said.

The world's oldest millet, dating back about 8,000 years, was discovered by archaeologists in Chifeng around a decade ago.

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