The World Bank will provide a $100 million loan to the People’s Republic of China to improve food safety efforts, Food Production Daily reported yesterday. The loan, the bank’s largest ever for a food safety initiative, will fund 70 percent of the China’s initiative to up the safety of agricultural commodities from the Jilin Province.

The Jilin Agricultural Product Quality and Safety Project, according to Food Production Daily, “will help develop new standards for good agricultural practices–including cultivation methods, and appropriate use of veterinary medicines and pesticides.”

The announcement comes as China is working to improve its oversight of food safety and quality in the wake of several high-profile food scandals–many involving toxic dairy products–which have left the country’s food safety and quality image tattered.

The country has also struggled with agricultural incidents. In March, it was revealed that Chinese health officials were trying to keep an incident involving 3.5 tons of pesticide-tainted beans a secret.

“Due to the lack of effective supervision of pesticide sales, farmers can still get the banned ones fairly easily, which they prefer for their low prices,” Sun Shubao, secretary general of the China Crop Protection Industry Association, told China Daily during the scandal earlier this year.

According to Food Production Daily, eligible business or agricultural trade groups will receive small

loans from the project to “develop and demonstrate models for

integrating small-scale farmers into high quality, high value and safe

agricultural product chains.”

“Once these approaches have been tested

and proven successful, they can be rolled out to other provinces in

China,” said Iain G Shuker, World Bank task

manager for the project. 
Food safety on the farm is one of many issues facing China’s food system. The country has dealt with a series of problems with melamine-tainted dairy. In 2008 a high-profile scandal sickened over 300,000 and killed 6 infants.

Public officials also found 170 tons of additional melamine-tainted dairy products in the marketplace earlier this year during a countrywide food safety crackdown.