Orange farmers harvest wealth from green mountains

(Xinhua) 09:09, October 13, 2023

This aerial photo taken on Oct. 10, 2023 shows orange orchards in Fengjie County in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality. (Xinhua/Huang Wei)

CHONGQING, Oct. 12 (Xinhua) -- Yi Shoucai, an orange farmer in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, has a name that can be translated as "Easily Guardwealth," yet it was not easy for him to make a fortune in the first place.

Yi, 50, grew lychees in south China's Guangdong Province for seven years before deciding in 2004 to return to Chongqing's Fengjie County to start his own business -- growing oranges -- in Ouying Village, his hometown.

Fengjie, which sits on mountains overlooking the Yangtze River in the heart of the Three Gorges Reservoir region, and its adjacent areas have everything orange trees need to flourish, including abundant sunlight, reddish sandy soil and balanced rainfall.

The experienced fruit grower started with 5 mu (0.33 hectare) of orange trees, but his high hopes were dampened by his initial harvests. Yi made only around 4,000 yuan (557 U.S. dollars) from a disappointing production of less than 5 tonnes of oranges annually.

Yi's biggest challenge turned out to be a nearby cement production plant which produced a great amount of smoke and other waste, forming a gray cloud that shrouded the village.

"Orange tree leaves were all covered with ashes. I would get gray too from head to toe after a short while of working in the field," he recalled.

Few people wanted Ouying's fruits due to the severe air and soil pollution, even though Yi sold them at a lower price. Some of his fellow orange growers gave up and left the village to seek jobs outside.

The lean and robust man persisted for years and the time finally came for his orchard to thrive. Local environmental protection authorities shut down the cement production plant in 2013 in accordance with the law amid a nationwide fight against pollution.

Guided by the vision of "lucid waters and lush mountains are invaluable assets," Fengjie, Chongqing and the entire China have abandoned development at the cost of the environment and shifted to the path of green growth.

With the dust cloud disappearing, mountains in Ouying Village were a brighter green again.

To boost orange growing and processing, Fengjie has since made continuous efforts to encourage using organic fertilizers, overhaul road and irrigation infrastructure, introduce new species of orange trees, and provide farmers with the latest knowledge.

"As the environment improved, soil quality also became better. We also keep updating farming skills. Our oranges are becoming sweeter and bigger with a more pleasant color," Yi said.

Now, 962 households in Ouying Village cultivate more than 7,500 mu of orange trees. Every household can rake in an average of over 100,000 yuan annually.

Seeing a sweet future, Yi has expanded his orchard to over 30 mu and his annual income can reach 300,000 yuan. This man indeed has a fortune to guard.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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