Prickly fruit boosts rural economy in hilly province

(Xinhua) 15:54, October 26, 2023

GUIYANG, Oct. 26 (Xinhua) -- With the harvest season in full swing in Longli County, southwest China's Guizhou Province, verdant hills are being embellished by yellowish, spiny Cili fruits, or Rosa roxburghii in Latin.

Meaning "thorn pear" in Chinese, Cili is rich in vitamin C and has various nutritional benefits. It is one of the iconic specialties of this mountainous region.

Yan Qihua, a 60-year-old villager in Longli, has grown Cili for over two decades and has witnessed how this prickly fruit has reshaped his hometown.

"Cili is hardly a common fruit and is difficult to preserve, so my wholesale business was once caught in a dilemma and I had to find a way out," said Yan.

Eyeing industrial upgrades, he found the solution in deep processing. "We began to process fresh fruits into candied products, which have a longer shelf-life and added value," Yan said.

With the help of agricultural technology, Yan has dedicated the past two decades to exploring more approaches for candied Cili manufacturing. As more local residents hopped on the bandwagon, Yan established an agricultural cooperative to pool wisdom and share growth opportunities.

With Cili production having evolved into a pillar industry locally, the cooperative boasts an annual output of more than 450 tonnes, helping over 300 local residents to secure employment each year.

Yan's story exemplifies the concerted efforts of Guizhou in advancing rural revitalization of distinctive industries. Recent years have seen the province scale up support for the upgrading of the Cili industry.

A case in point is Huishui County, where boxes of Cili fruits from neighboring Longli are processed by an assembly line into a juice beverage.

Known as Ciningji, the beverage is an outcome of cross-provincial cooperation in poverty alleviation. Its producer, Guizhou Wanglaoji Ciningji Industrial Development Co., Ltd., was established by Guangzhou Pharmaceutical Holdings Limited.

Benefiting from Guizhou's favorable conditions for Cili planting and the Guangzhou-based company's advantages in processing and marketing, the beverage is gaining popularity among a wider range of consumers.

Guizhou has officially designated the Cili industry as one of its 12 major rural industries with local characteristics and advantages.

Data showed that as of the end of 2022, the annual output of Cili in Guizhou had reached 15 billion yuan (2.09 billion U.S. dollars), with the over 210,000 rural residents involved in the industry enjoying an increase in income.

Looking ahead, Hu Hongcheng, head of the provincial forestry commission, said that the province will step up efforts to expand the planting area, bolster the market presence and promote deep processing to help the Cili industry continue to thrive.

"We are striving to take more quality Guizhou products out of the mountains so they can reach to the world," Hu said.

(Web editor: Tian Yi, Liang Jun)


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