County in SW China makes a name for vegetable production

Vast vegetable fields are unrolling in Xiushan neighborhood, Tonghai county, southwest China’s Yunnan province, where various species of vegetables are thriving in palette-like grids divided by straight ridges.

“Every household here grows vegetables,” said Zhao Siwang, Party head of Xiushan’s Dashu community. The village has sold its vegetables to Thailand, Vietnam, and even the Middle East, the Party head told People’s Daily, with pride on his face.

Tonghai county is a well-known production and distribution base of vegetables in Yunnan province. In recent years, by advancing supply-side structural reform of the agricultural sector, the county significantly optimized its vegetable varieties and improved vegetable quality with standardized production, which successfully helped it build a brand for its products.

Being an inland county, Tonghai sells 36 percent of its vegetables to overseas markets. The per capita disposable income of rural residents in the county is expected to reach 19,615 yuan ($3,032) in 2020, up 6,980 yuan from 5 years ago, or increasing 9.2 percent annually on average.

Quality is the reason for the village to win market shares overseas, according to Zhao.

Dashu community started vegetable production in 1998. After 18 years of development, both Zhao and his fellow villagers felt they encountered a bottleneck. Therefore, the community decided to seek new methods to replace traditional ways of production, taking quality and efficiency as top priorities.

Today, sticky traps and solar deinsectization lamps are seen everywhere in the planting areas of Dashu community. In addition, modern sprinkler irrigation systems are installed in the fields.

“Infrastructure has been gradually improved in recent years. Green technologies are making our vegetables better, and that’s our core competitiveness,” said Zhao, pointing at the vegetables grown in neatly divided grids. According to him, the community has adopted unified standards and offered technical guidance on variety selection, application of organic fertilizers, and plant spacing.

Cheng Xiuling, a vegetable farmer of Tonghai county, joined the county’s Yuantai cooperative in 2019. The cooperative offers meteorological monitoring and weather forecast, as well as soil data monitoring services in its plantation.

After joining the cooperative, Cheng for the first time used a smart water and fertilizer all-in-one machine, as well as a humiture system and a video surveillance system. “The cooperative offers unified technical standards and marketing strategies, which reduces our concerns,” said Cheng.

He Lai, chairman of the cooperative, told People’s Daily that Tonghai county introduced an agricultural internet of things (IoT) last May, which has enabled the cooperative to make its vegetable production smarter and trace its products in a more comprehensive and precise manner. “In the future, consumers can watch the growth of vegetables on their mobile phones,” he said.

Gaoyuan farm produce company in Tonghai county has a workshop that processes turnip strips. These strips, after being packed, are exported to South Korea and Japan.

As a flagship product of the company, these turnip strips generate export revenue of $8 million each year. “The price of turnips per kilogram is 0.6 yuan at most, but it surges fivefold after a dozen rounds of processing,” said Yang Wei, general manager of the company.

In July 2019, vegetables processed by the company were for the first time shipped to Shenzhen’s seaports via railway before they arrived at their overseas destinations. From shipping products on trucks covered by quilts, to developing professional road and railway cold chain logistics, Tonghai will definitely embrace bigger achievements in the vegetable business, Yang said.

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