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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Getting to the root of it

By Guo Rui (China Daily)

08:08, January 10, 2012

Liu Jigang displays a lotus root he just dug up in Hualian Lake in Wuhan, Hubei province. (China Daily/Guo Rui)

WUHAN - It is cold enough outside in winter, not to mention standing in chilly water.

Yet for people like Liu Jigang, that is just a way of making a living.

Liu, 39, digs up lotus roots in the frigid winds of Hualian Lake, in Wuhan, Hubei province.

The Central China province boasts extensive planting areas of high quality lotus roots, and those in the industry have to work in the pond for more than eight hours a day in the cold season, from October to March.

"I have done this job for three years, my whole family is counting on my work," Liu told China Daily as he took a rest from digging up a lotus root.

His rough hands and the deep furrows lining his face belie his youth, and attest to the toughness of such labor.
Liu gets up at six every morning, downs a quick breakfast, and cycles to the lake about 40 minutes away.

He stands in the pond full of 40-centimeter-deep silt for about 10 hours, with a lunch break of about 30 minutes.
"Because the mud covers the lotus root, I have to walk a long muddy way to reach the places to dig in the marshy pond," Liu said.

It took him 20 minutes to move 15 meters the first time.

"The work needs both strength and skill," Liu said. "Once you know how to walk in the silt, you have to suffer standing half bent over for a long time and working in the chilly water."

Liu said the difficulty with digging is that people are not sure where the lotus roots might be.

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