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Jurong in east China embarks on distinctive path of rural vitalization

(People's Daily Online)    16:39, April 30, 2020

Jurong, in east China’s Jiangsu province, has embarked on a distinctive path of rural vitalization by pursing green and integrated development of primary, secondary and tertiary industries in rural areas.

Known for strawberries, earlier this year the town of Baitu was unable to welcome visitors to pick them due to the coronavirus outbreak, said Ji Rongxi, secretary of the town’s Party branch for model strawberry-growing households, adding that they had to expand sale channels. According to Ji, their efforts are surprisingly paying off.

Ji took the lead to deliver strawberries directly to regular customers’ doors and found new customers along the way, selling over 1,000 kilograms of strawberries to customers in Nanjing and Zhenjiang.

Younger strawberry farmers turn to new channels such as e-commerce platforms for sales, with Chen Yue as an example, mainly selling strawberries on the Chinese e-commerce giant Taobao and popular social media platform WeChat.

“I have received over 300 online orders so far, several times more than past years,” Chen said, adding that she will continue to sell the fruit online.

This year, the town plans to build a greenhouse strawberry base with sightseeing walkways. In recent years, Baitu has focused on the development of eco-agriculture and integrated tourism, with strawberries serving as an important source. Optimizing the strawberry industry by building tourism facilities, such as strawberry-themed playgrounds and launching various products, including dried strawberries and strawberry beverages, efforts like this in the town helps the farmers increase income.

Total annual revenues of the upstream and downstream of the strawberry sector in Jurong amounted to 1.8 billion yuan ($258 million) , establishing the city as one of the main producing areas in east China. While about 70 percent of strawberry farmers’ family income comes from growing strawberries, the income per mu , or 0.17 acres, exceeded 40,000 yuan ($5,600).

Houbai town has promoted a grass-growing project in the city to help farmers increase their income and improve their circumstances. So far, the town has grown over 2,000 hectares of more than 20 varieties of grass, with annual sales income exceeding 3.5 million yuan ($490,000), as the output value of the entire grass-growing sector surpassed 1 billion yuan.

“We usually start to sell sods from March each year and all sold out in less than a month,” said Li Zhishun, secretary of the general Party branch of Xifeng village in Houbai.

Based on the project, the town has also launched several tourism routes such as a flower walkway, attracting numerous tourists.

In 2018, a lawn research institute was established in Jurong, which is the only provincial lawn research institute in Jiangsu, with the mission of improving the surrounding natural environment.

“We have the confidence to make the institute a sustainable agricultural base to help promote high-end development of Houbai’s grass-growing sector and maintain village vitalization,” said Yang Zhimin, head of the institute.

Pan Qun, Party chief of Jurong city, said the city will turn agriculture into an industry with bright prospects, make farming an appealing occupation, and build rural areas into beautiful communities in which people live and work in peace and contentment. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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