A farmer picks passion fruit at an orchard in Rongjiang county, Guizhou province, in September.YAO XU/CHINA DAILY
In a small county in Southwest China’s mountainous Guizhou province, the country’s sole province devoid of any significant plains, a large-scale high-yield agricultural park has witnessed solid growth this year, and it aims to become a major vegetable base for the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
The Chejiang dam vegetable base, located in Rongjiang county, southeastern Guizhou, utilizes gradual gradients and rolling hills in the region for cultivation. Occupying 670 hectares, it is expected to see annual output of 159 million yuan ($23.6 million) in 2020.
This year has seen the facility become a driving force to lead the deeply impoverished county to prosperity.
“So far this year, we have provided more than 4,000 metric tons of vegetables such as peppers, cucumbers and tomatoes to the Greater Bay Area, and flavors of some vegetables are tailored to cater to local appetites and eating habits,” said Kong Weiwei, director of Guiyang Agricultural Investment Development.
“In July, we exported about 100 tons of cowpeas to Japan and South Korea. We have also exported vegetables to Southeast Asia. Besides, we plan to export more products overseas,” Kong said.
Thanks to the Guiyang-Guangzhou high-speed railway and multiple highways, Rongjiang is no longer a forgotten corner of the country. It has become more convenient for local agricultural products to be transported to other regions.
Eyeing the creation of even more convenient transportation and given the region’s advantageous natural conditions, the Rongjiang county government and the Guiyang Agricultural Investment Development company plan to invest a total of 500 million yuan over time in building the agricultural park.
Previously, the agricultural sector in the county was small-scale and fragmented. Since the agricultural park became a reality, automated farming equipment has become the norm. For instance, some machinery can initiate irrigation after automatically assessing soil moisture and air humidity levels.
By taking advantage of its subtropical climate, high altitude and fertile soil, the agricultural park plants peppers, tomatoes and pumpkins in the spring, and eggplants, cucumbers and gourds in the summer. In addition, it plants high value-added products such as pea seedlings and cabbages in the cooler winter months.
With higher average temperatures than other regions in the country, vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers can hit the market in March, which is earlier than those produced elsewhere, and can thus command higher prices.
By purposefully selecting vegetable varieties and improving industrial management practices, the agricultural park has been able to minimize planting costs and maximize profits.
The park has signed long-term cooperation agreements with 12 wholesale markets nationwide, including those in Guangzhou and Shenzhen in Guangdong province, and Chongqing, in addition to a number of local wholesale venues and supermarkets in Guizhou.
Meanwhile, the large-scale agricultural park has created abundant job positions for villagers. On average, about 840 people work at the park every day, with an average age of around 50.
Shi Jingzhu, 35, used to be a migrant worker. After the agricultural park was founded, she went back to her hometown and started working at the greenhouse tending the vegetables. By working eight to nine hours a day, she can make 120 yuan daily. It has also become more convenient for her to look after her three children as she works close to home.
Wu Guowen is a technician working at the agricultural park. Before, he had been a small-scale farmer for more than two decades. Now, he manages about 20 hectares of land and is responsible for field management tasks such as fertilization and spraying.
“I have planted multiple kinds of vegetables before and gained ample experience. I also attended professional training on a regular basis after working here. Now, the vegetable varieties are hybrids with higher yields. My income has also increased,” Wu said.