|Across China: Honeysuckle growers see golden future|
//english.dbw.cn 2019-07-10 11:18:18
In China, honeysuckle has long been employed to treat a variety of conditions ranging from fevers and inflammation to sore throats. Now the herb is a weapon to fight grinding poverty.
Yang Jingde, a 52-year-old farmer in the northwestern province of Gansu, knew this so well that he was invited to a big stage to share with hundreds of fellow villagers his story of turning honeysuckle flowers into cash and winning dignity.
Born and raised in a village of poverty-stricken Tongwei County, Yang has made a living by planting cereal crops for decades on a land characterized by drought and fragile ecology.
"With two kids to feed, it was difficult to make ends meet," Yang said. "But our life has changed this year."
China has vowed to eradicate absolute poverty by 2020. The harsh environment makes Tongwei a hard nut to crack in Gansu's battle against poverty. The local government has been seeking targeted, precise solutions to make the efforts more effective.
Thanks to a plentiful harvest and economic value as a key ingredient of herbal medicines and health products, honeysuckle flowers were recommended by the local government to farmers like Yang who once considered the industry unpromising and unreliable.
"We had planted corn and wheat for generations. We thought the shift to honeysuckle was too risky," he said.
Organized by local cadres, Yang and his fellow villagers paid a visit to Qingliangyuan, a company dedicated to helping farmers get rid of poverty through honeysuckle growing. The visit eliminated their worries and made them realize that the honeysuckle project was not a sudden impulse of the government.
With high medicinal and economic values, the drought-resistant honeysuckle is suitable for Tongwei, according to Shao Zhigang, the Party chief of the county.
Back in 2013, Tongwei launched a pilot project to grow honeysuckles. Experiments showed that the output value per mu (around 0.07 hectare) in the second and third year of plantation reached 3,000 yuan (around 435 U.S. dollars) and over 5,000 yuan respectively.
The planting of honeysuckles has been promoted on a large scale in Tongwei since 2017.
Supported by the local government and enterprises, Yang planted 0.27 hectare of honeysuckles last year.
"Growing honeysuckles only requires timely weeding and trimming and brings higher profits than cereal crops. I can find part-time jobs in cities in my spare time," Yang said.
In June, Yang and his wife began the flower-picking process. Honeysuckle flowers weighing over 100 kg fetched a price of over 2,000 yuan. It is estimated that they would be able to earn at least 12,000 yuan in total.
After witnessing the big profits, Yang applied to expand his planting area to around one hectare.
The honeysuckle planting area in the 13 townships of Tongwei has totaled 4,667 hectares, making the county the largest honeysuckle planting base in northwest China. Around 78,000 poverty-stricken villagers have become honeysuckle growers, said Xu Binke, an official from the county.
A complete industrial chain has been established. Qingliangyuan company has set up 11 honeysuckle baking factories in 11 townships and several flower collection spots in villages.
According to Zhai Yusheng, who is in charge of the company, the enterprise has a complete industrial chain involving seedling breeding, standardized planting, processing and sales.
"We process baked honeysuckles into daily products like liquid soap to increase the added value of this traditional herb," Zhai added.
Honeysuckle is commonly known as Jinyinhua, literally meaning "golden and silver flower," in China.
Tongwei plans to expand the planting area of honeysuckles this year to "create a golden future for more growers," Xu said.
Author： Source：xinhua Editor：Yang Fan