BEIJING, Apr. 9 -- China saw an explosive growth of appliance sales in rural areas in the first quarter of this year on government policy to offer subsidies to farmers for appliance purchase, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said in a statement on its Web site Thursday.
Farmers bought 16.03 million sets of subsidized household appliances in the first three months, up 490 percent from a year earlier. Sales jumped 690 percent to 31.67 billion yuan ($4.64 billion), according to the statement.
Sales of TV sets, refrigerators and washing machines hit 11.3 billion yuan, 9 billion yuan and 4.2 billion yuan, respectively.
The rural home appliance subsidy program was launched by the MOC in February last year, in an attempt to spur rural consumption to buoy the country's economic growth amid the global economic downturn. Farmers are given subsidies equal to 13 percent of the price of designated home appliances.
The subsidized appliance in the program included refrigerators, TV sets, mobile phones, washing machines, computers, air conditioners, water heaters, micro-wave ovens and electromagnetic ovens.
In March this year, the government added six kinds of appliances in the program including electric bike, smoke exhaust ventilator, gas stove, pressure cooker, electric cooker and DVD player.
The ministry also said the first quarter saw strong sales of motorcycles and vehicles in rural areas after the government extended the rural subsidy program to include vehicles and motorcycles in March last year.
Rural consumers bought 1.9 million motorcycles in the first quarter with government subsidies of 1.11 billion yuan, and 560,000 vehicles with subsidies of 2.14 billion yuan.