Two Chinese Gen Zers turn to agriculture in E China’s Anhui

(People's Daily Online) 13:28, February 09, 2023

Zhu Jiaojie and Li Lingfeng are two Chinese Gen Zers who make their living planting strawberries. Born after the millennium year, they have dedicated their lives to strawberry growing in Guangde city, east China’s Anhui Province.

“The most important part is my interest in agriculture. I studied agriculture and forestry in university. Planting strawberries fits my studies, and allows me to apply what I have learned,” says Zhu, who also acknowledges the support given by his family. As for Li, a veteran, his concern and affection for his grandparents prompted him to return home after his retirement. When he came back, he saw opportunities in rural regions and decided to forge a partnership with Zhu.

Zhu Jiaojie (left) and Li Lingfeng in Guangde city, east China’s Anhui Province, where they have taken up strawberry planting. (People’s Daily Online/Zhang Jun)

In less than two years, after learning from professionals in Guangde Sanpuhui Agriculture and Technology Development Company Co. Ltd., Zhu and Li gained a working knowledge of strawberry planting. They acquired some advanced skills here because the company is not only the strawberry plantation base of their city, it’s also the strawberry working station of Institute of Horticulture of Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

When the temperature drops below zero degrees Celsius, they must close the inner cover of their greenhouse. In the morning, when the temperature rises, they need to take the opportunity to ventilate them. Strawberries love sunlight and cannot survive being soaked, so they must pay special attention to make sure the strawberries have sufficient sunlight and guarantee that the excess water is drained away.

Zhu and Li check the conditions of strawberries. (People’s Daily Online/Zhang Jun)

The accumulation of experience and knowledge of techniques and management, in addition to their strong work ethic, prompted them to establish their own fields. Today, in addition to owning strawberry fields, they also hold shares in Sanpuhui.

They have experimented with two types of planting methods: traditional planting and elevated greenhouse cultivation planting, which yield around 2,500 kilograms and 3,000 kilograms per mu (667 square meters), respectively.

Strawberries grow in Zhu and Li’s greenhouse. (People’s Daily Online/Zhang Jun)

In addition to the planting aspect, they have also shown a talent for innovation in sales. They use different channels to sell their produce, including livestream online sales, and self-service in-person sales. Outside their greenhouse, they have put up a stall with strawberries and a QR code for electronic payments, and customers can make purchases by themselves. This method spares them from labor costs, and increases their popularity.

“The picking period spans from November to April. Although sales prices have gone down, we yielded more produce this year, and we still expect to earn profits this year,” says Li.

The prime time for picking strawberries is around the Chinese New Year, during which Zhu and Li spent most of their time in the fields picking and processing strawberries, even on New Year’s Day and its Eve. “After finishing work in the New Year holiday, we hope to take a break from our work,” they said.

A customer holds up some strawberries. (People’s Daily Online/Zhang Jun)

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Du Mingming)


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