Medicinal mushroom boom spurs rural revival in Zhejiang

(People's Daily Online) 09:12, November 29, 2023

With a forest coverage rate of 84.4 percent, Longquan, a city in east China's Zhejiang Province, is known for its high-quality lingzhi mushrooms, also known as Ganoderma lucidum, a medicinal fungus.

Photo shows a view of a lingzhi garden in Meidi village, Longquan, east China's Zhejiang Province. (Photo courtesy of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Longquan Municipal Committee)

During the fourth China (Longquan) Lingzhi Conference recetnly held in Longquan, 13 enterprises showcased more than 70 lingzhi-related products.

In recent years, the city has pioneered a path of rural revitalization characterized by thriving industries, a sound environment, and improved livelihoods through developing a prosperous lingzhi industry.

Lingzhi cultivation in Longquan dates back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Since 2017, the city has adopted industrialized lingzhi cultivation, significantly improving the quality of its products. This modernization has also tackled challenges related to repeatedly growing lingzhi in the same fields, which can affect soil health and the long-term viability of lingzhi farming.

Photo shows lingzhi in Longquan, east China's Zhejiang Province. (Photo courtesy of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Longquan Municipal Committee)

In collaboration with universities and research institutions, including Zhejiang University and the Shanghai Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Longquan has advanced the breeding of lingzhi varieties and the research and development of processed lingzhi products in recent years. This collaboration has facilitated high-yield, sustainable lingzhi cultivation and the safe production of premium products.

Thousands of people are employed in the lingzhi industry in Longquan. The city's optimal natural conditions, combined with scientific cultivation techniques, have made Longquan lingzhi well-known both domestically and internationally.

In 2022, the combined brand value of Longquan lingzhi and Longquan lingzhi cracked spore powder reached 4.5 billion yuan ($627.8 million), ranking first nationwide.

Xiang Yongnian, head of a family farm in Meidi village, Longquan, east China's Zhejiang Province, holds lingzhi at his facility. (Photo courtesy of the interviewee)

Xiang Yongnian, a native of Meidi village known for its wild lingzhi resources and favorable natural conditions for lingzhi growth, has successfully cultivated quasi-wild lingzhi. Xiang, also the head of a family farm in the village, made this achievement through persistent efforts.

In 2015, Xiang established the first quasi-wild lingzhi research institution in Longquan and the only facility in Zhejiang for cultivating quasi-wild lingzhi for cracked spore production in forests.

"The lingzhi we cultivate deep in the mountains are free from pollution, fertilizers, and pesticides," he said.

That same year, Xiang began building a lingzhi garden, with the quasi-wild lingzhi cultivation area surpassing 500 mu (33.3 hectares).

In 2021, Xiang contracted over 2,000 mu of public welfare forests to cultivate quasi-wild lingzhi. "This approach does not harm the local environment but can increase farmers' incomes," he explained.

Xiang's cultivation area has expanded to 2,590 mu. Last year, the output value of his facility reached 10 million yuan, aiding 120 farmers in finding local employment and generating an average additional income of 10,000 yuan for each.

Xiang has promoted the integrated development of agriculture, culture, and tourism. In 2017, he established a tourist service center, a lingzhi cultural center, and an exhibition and sales hall for lingzhi at his facility. His establishment now attracts more than 20,000 tourists annually.

Longquan has further integrated agriculture with tourism and delved into its thousand-year-old lingzhi culture to develop the lingzhi and wellness sectors. The city has built several wellness centers based on lingzhi culture.

In 2022, a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) health tourism facility in Longquan was included on Zhejiang's list of demonstration bases for TCM culture and health tourism. Following this recognition, the facility's annual product sales exceeded 8 million yuan, and tourist visits surpassed 30,000 last year.

Photo shows lingzhi coffee. (Photo courtesy of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Longquan Municipal Committee)

Over the past few years, Longquan has focused on the high-quality development of the entire lingzhi industrial chain. Efforts have been concentrated on areas such as breeding, standards development, research and development (R&D), and brand promotion. The city has also diversified its lingzhi products to meet domestic and international market demands and has expanded its export scale.

In 2022, five enterprises in Longquan were recognized on Zhejiang's list of pilot enterprises for medicinal food production, successfully developing eight types of medicinal food, including lingzhi coffee.

Ye Minping, an executive at Zhejiang Longquanshan Food Co., Ltd., noted that following the launch of lingzhi coffee, the company has received many orders. The development of new products has boosted their entire product line. In early 2023, the company's orders surged by more than 40 percent compared to the same period in 2022.

"We will continue to step up R&D efforts, explore lingzhi's medicinal value, and research lingzhi products in sectors including beverage and food to make high-quality Longquan lingzhi reach households far and wide,” said Ye.

Photo shows Longquan's lingzhi products. (People's Daily Online/Fang Pengyimeng)

Longquan has developed more than 20 types of deep-processed lingzhi products. The city's annual output value of lingzhi exceeds 700 million yuan, and its lingzhi powder production surpasses 2,500 tonnes. Longquan has marketed its lingzhi products to countries and regions including Japan, South Korea, and Singapore.

Longquan's lingzhi facilities yield 375 kilograms of lingzhi cracked spore powder and 300 kilograms of lingzhi per mu annually. Consequently, the average net income per mu is 30,000 yuan. The lingzhi industry has significantly contributed to the prosperity of residents in Longquan's mountainous areas.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Du Mingming)


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