Agribusiness: Lettuce Pray

Chinese farms pin their hopes on new machines--and greens

Hebei province, China's breadbasket, is a long way from Douglas Trett's mechanized, 4,000-acre corn, cotton, nut and wheat farm, north of Fresno, Calif. "I just came back from a field where a man was working barefoot with oxen," Trett says in a tone of wonderment, as if he has just returned from another planet.

It's hard to imagine China's peasant farmers, with their garden-size plots and primitive technology, matching Western agroindustry, but Trett will do his part to get them there. He has been hired by Chinaveg, a private company owned by the Hong Kong venture-capital firm Interasia and other investors....

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