Tea industry boosts rural revitalization in southwest mountainous area

(Xinhua) 10:49, April 13, 2023

This aerial photo shows tea plantations in Yongxing Town, Meitan County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, April 4, 2023. (Xinhua/Ou Dongqu)

GUIYANG, April 12 (Xinhua) -- In early April, Sanhe Tea Garden in Qinglong County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, ushered in the spring tea picking season.

Early in the morning, Tian Lianqi, deputy director of the tea industry development center in Qinglong, went to the tea garden to check the growth of the spring tea crop. The few tea buds he picked at random, with their plump shape and bright color, as well as small and distinct fuzzes on the buds, indicated that the tea plants are growing well this year.

Qinglong County belongs to the rocky desertification mountainous areas of Guizhou and nearby Yunnan Province, as well as the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The karst area in Qinglong accounts for 53 percent of the county's land area, and was once the bottleneck restricting the development of the county's economy and society.

In fact, inhabitants of Qinglong County, which boasts suitable natural conditions for tea growth such as high altitude, low latitude, limited sunshine and cloudy weather, have since ancient times been planting, making and selling tea. In 1980, experts found a fossilized tea seed dating back 1.64 million years in the county, which is therefore known as the global hometown of tea seed fossils.

"This shows that tea originated in China," said Xiong Huayu, head of the county government, adding that Qinglong has been using the tea industry as its main business in promoting agricultural modernization.

The county has developed its tea industry on a large scale in recent years, gradually turning its disadvantage of having mountainous areas into a natural advantage for developing modern agriculture suitable for mountainous features.

By the end of 2022, the tea plantation area of Qinglong County had hit 165,000 mu (11,000 hectares), and the area of tea gardens put into production in the county had amounted to nearly 100,000 mu, with the comprehensive output value reaching 650 million yuan (about 94.4 million U.S. dollars).

"The quality of our spring tea this year is good, and so is its price. At the best time, the tea leaves can sell for 120 to 150 yuan per 500 grams," Tian said. "Some tea gardens with good management saw their annual output value per mu top tens of thousands of yuan. The tea industry can truly enrich our local people."

In February, China issued the "No. 1 central document" for 2023, the first policy statement released by the central authorities each year, calling for efforts to advance rural revitalization across the board and ceaselessly strive for the modernization of agriculture and rural areas.

Shazi Town, where Sanhe Tea Garden is located, is the core tea producing area of Qinglong County. Nearly 20,000 mu of tea has been planted in Shazi, which means that each person in the town can own one mu of tea.

"A villager can earn 200 to 300 yuan a day by picking tea leaves alone during the spring tea picking season," said Bai Yang, Party chief of Shazi Town.

According to Bai, there are now two tea enterprises with an annual output value of more than 40 million yuan in Shazi, and the tea industry involves nearly 70 percent of the town's population.

Over the years, while strengthening tea plantations and plantation management, Shazi Town has also actively explored the road of rural revitalization with the integration of the tea industry and tourism.

In a community adjacent to the Sanhe Tea Garden, a beautiful countryside is emerging as the whole town is improving their living environment -- small piles of coal have been planted with flowers, garbage ponds have been turned into water landscapes, and overgrown spaces have become leisure pavilions.

Qinglong County has also made a series of efforts to speed up the integration of the tea industry and tourism, including the development of new tea drinks to extend the industry chain.

The local government is accelerating the implementation of a number of projects. A tea expo garden will be set up to display tea trees from all over China and popularize tea knowledge. In addition, a smart tea museum is expected to be built, allowing visitors to learn about the history of tea with the help of big data technology.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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