Chaoyang becomes nation's vegetable garden

Updated: 2012-06-06 08:02

By Zhu Chengpei and Zhang Xiaomin in Chaoyang, Liaoning (China Daily)

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From the Front Line

Zhao Wei wandered through her large greenhouse, stopping every so often to check on the progress of her eggplants.

"My husband and I used to be migrant workers earning about 2,000 yuan ($310) each month. Now our annual income is almost quintupled," the 43-year-old said with huge smile.

And her family is not alone. Thousands of farmers across Chaoyang in Liaoning province have seen their incomes increase rapidly thanks to developments in the vegetable and flower industry.

Chaoyang becomes nation's vegetable garden
Zhao Wei, a farmer in Chaoyang city, Liaoning province, picks eggplants at her greenhouse. Zhu Chengpei / China Daily

"The winter in Chaoyang can last up to five months. But since we began promoting greenhouses, things have improved," said Chen Tiexin, Party chief of Chaoyang. Chen said the per capita income for farmers last year was 5.4 times what it was in 2001.

For example, he added, if a farmer grows corn on 1 mu (0.06 hectares) of land, it can bring an income of only 500 yuan. But if it is used to grow tomatoes, the income can be about 100,000 yuan; cherries, 250,000 yuan.

Chen said the industrialized agriculture is in the fast lane.

"As planned, by the end of 2015, Chaoyang will be built into the largest production base of green vegetables and the largest distributing center for the produce of industrialized agriculture in North China," he said.

Chaoyang boasts great advantages for growing vegetables in greenhouses, he said. It has about 2,886 hours of sunshine annually. Even in winter, it has enough sunshine to keep the greenhouses warm. Its annual precipitation is less than 400 mm but the drip irrigation technique used in the greenhouses requires less water.

Chaoyang also has good transport links with Hebei province, Beijing and Tianjin to the west; Inner Mongolia to the north, and other cities in Liaoning province to the east.

Chaoyang's vegetables are already sold in major cities around China, including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Dalian, as well as in Russia and parts of Southeast Asia. Famous local brands include Lingxin, Kalu and Zhuangtouying.

Liu Yi, deputy director of the Chaoyang agriculture committee, said Liaoning provincial government allocated 1 billion yuan in June 2010 to accelerate the development of Chaoyang's industrialized agriculture. That initiative attracted another 18 billion yuan in capital to invest in the sector.

"There are 760,000 greenhouses in Chaoyang, covering a total area of 124,000 hectares," Liu said. There are 720,000 rural families in Chaoyang and each one on average operates one greenhouse.

In March, arrangements were made to ensure vegetables were transported directly from the production base in Chaoyang to supermarkets in Dalian.

More than 20 cooperative associations of farmers signed contracts to supply nine supermarkets in Dalian. Under the contracts, the supermarkets would buy 360,000 tons of vegetables and fruit. The contract amount reached 170 million yuan.

"It reduced the middlemen and lowered costs, thus realized mutually beneficial cooperation among farmers, supermarkets, and customers," Liu said.

Chaoyang's vegetables are favored by more supermarkets.

Dashang Group, also in Dalian, is planning to build a large wholesale vegetable market near the expressway entrance to Chaoyang, Niu Gang, Dashang's president, revealed to China Daily.

Dashang is one of China's largest retailers. It now has 170 large stores around the country. In 2011, its sales broke through 110 billion yuan, making it the first domestic department store whose annual sales exceeded 100 billion yuan.

"The pollution-free vegetable of Chaoyang deserves better sales. It will be included in the whole circulation channel of Dashang Group," Liu said.

Chaoyang is known as "the place where the first flower on Earth bloomed and the first bird on Earth started to fly".

In the 1990s, fossils were discovered. They were believed to be the most ancient angiosperm and the first feathered dinosaur ever unearthed, both from the early Cretaceous period.

In addition, Chaoyang is the only city that set up special bureaus for the administration of planting vegetables and flowers in its counties.

"It shows that we place great emphasis on the development of the vegetable and flower industries," said Si Haijing, a technician with Lingyuan county's vegetable and flower administration.

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