Town in central China’s Hunan makes big industry out of small leaf mustards

(People's Daily Online) 13:23, April 23, 2021

Sanfengsi township in central China’s Hunan province has turned leaf mustard, a kind of vegetable used for making pickles, into a huge industry with an annual output value of nearly 1 billion yuan (about $152.8 million).

File photo shows farmers loading up a truck with leaf mustard. (Photo provided by the publicity department of Huarong county)

The township in Huarong county of Yueyang city boasts a leaf mustard industry that connects growers with farmers’ cooperatives and enterprises, giving farmers the reassurance that they can grow the vegetable on a large scale without having to worry about sales.

Today, the planting area of leaf mustard in the town has reached 15,000 mu (1,000 hectares), including a 3,000 mu high-standard demonstration base and a 300 mu centralized seedling base, said Zhang Zhejun, Party secretary of the town.

One third of the villagers in the town are now either engaged in leaf mustard growing or are employed by enterprises in the leaf mustard industry.

File photo shows farmers walking through a leaf mustard field. (Photo provided by the publicity department of Huarong county)

Li Xinlian, a 52-year-old farmer, began planting the vegetable on a large scale on land transferred by neighboring villagers in 2017, the year the local government started to build Sanfengsi township into a testing ground for leaf mustard cultivation.

“I don’t worry about sales at all, as I’ve signed a contract with a processing company under which we’ve reached a consensus in advance on what kind of leaf mustard to grow and how much the products will be,” Li said, noting that they have received technical assistance from experts dispatched by the local government.

In 2020, Li planted 30 mu of leaf mustard through intercropping. The vegetable achieved an average yield of nearly 6 tons per mu of land, bringing him another 1,500 yuan of income from each mu of land. In addition, by hiring 11 villagers to help him with the farm work, Li paid each of them 20,000 to 30,000 yuan in salaries over the year.

File photo shows workers busy with production of leaf mustard products in a modern processing plant. (Photo provided by the publicity department of Huarong county)

Food processing companies have also benefited from the leaf mustard industry. By establishing a factory in a leaf mustard industrial park, the Kaikoushuang company has raised its production capacity and sales revenues.

According to Zhou Zhifeng, the company’s board chairman, the new plant has five production lines, each with a daily capacity of 5 million bags of leaf mustard pickles. The company also works together with institutes and universities to deepen their knowledge of preserving the pickles. Meanwhile, Zhou is optimistic about the future. “Our sales revenue this year is expected to exceed 200 million yuan, more than twice the figure last year,” he said.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)