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Chinese olive farmers find money does grow on trees

(Xinhua)    14:12, January 12, 2021

LANZHOU, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- Amid a dreary winter, Luo Qinxue is busy pruning and fertilizing olive trees, exotic variants from Italy.

Luo is a technician with the Longnan Xiangyu Olive Development Company in the northwestern Chinese city of Longnan, Gansu Province. The Chinese company is partial to Italian olive varieties, such as Leccino and Coratina, which account for about 60 percent of its planting area.

Once among the least-developed parts of China, Longnan was long plagued by its poor transport infrastructure and regarded as a synonym for cheap agricultural products.

Now, with its forests of foreign olive trees, the region is gaining steam upmarket.

"Apart from the olive varieties, processing lines for extra virgin olive oil were imported from Italy and Germany," said Wang Wuxin, deputy general manager of the company, noting that China's first olive oil production line was imported from Italy and is now preserved in his company as a piece of history.

The company's olive oil candidate, which came from the Italian Coratina variety, won the top Double Gold award at the Athena International Olive Oil Competition last year. It was the first time a Chinese enterprise won such an honor in Greece, the headstream of the world's olive oil.

The rich ore motivated has more gold miners. Longnan Garden City Olive Technology Development Co., Ltd. is also dedicated to Italian olive trees.

Bai Xiaoyong, the company's chairman, in 2006 headed for Tuscany in Italy to learn the local skills of planting and processing olive trees. Their proficiency fueled Bai's enthusiasm for promoting olive oil production back in China.

After signing a cooperation contract with an Italian firm, Bai's company welcomed foreign engineers to China to provide their Chinese co-workers with detailed technical guidance. Equipment imported from Italy was also installed at its production base in southwest China's Yunnan Province.

In 2018, the company's olive oil stood out among 189 product samples from across the globe and won first prize, the Mario Solinas Quality Award, in an international competition organized by the International Olive Oil Council in Spain.

Olive oil has now become a pillar industry in the region, with over 40,000 poverty-stricken households profiting in the booming sector. By the end of November 2020, Longnan had developed more than 40,000 hectares of olive trees, yielding 30,000 tonnes of olives and producing 4,200 tonnes of virgin olive oil worth 1.93 billion yuan (about 298 million U.S. dollars), according to the Longnan Olive Research Institute.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Wen Ying, Liang Jun)

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