Tech facilitates thriving tea industry in Dongzhi, E China's Anhui

(People's Daily Online) 14:21, April 29, 2024

In recent years, Dongzhi county in east China's Anhui Province has leveraged technology and its ecological advantages to achieve the high-quality development of the tea industry, enhance tea brand building, and help boost rural revitalization through the thriving tea sector.

Farmers pick tea leaves in Dongzhi county, east China's Anhui Province. (People's Daily Online/Wang Rui)

Data shows that the tea planting area in the county reached 125,000 mu (8,333 hectares) in 2023, with the output of the tea industry worth 1.37 billion yuan ($189.1 million).

Wang Huilai, 61, retired from the agricultural technology promotion center in Gegong township of the county last year and became a sci-tech expert to provide guidance on agricultural cultivation for farmers.

Gegong township is one of the places where the world-renowned Keemun black tea originated from.

"Tea farmers hope to earn money by selling spring tea leaves, but a good harvest cannot be achieved without science-based tea cultivation and production," said Wang.

In the past, tea planting in the township was hampered by extensive production models and low efficiency, with many farmers abandoning their tea gardens to work outside, Wang said.

To ensure tea quality, sci-tech experts started with tea garden management, formulated a manual for standardized tea planting, and guided farmers to grow good tea varieties. Since 2018, the township has promoted the planting of a new tea variety, and effectively reduced the impact of weather on tea growth and increased tea yield and quality.

A farmer picks tea leaves in Dongzhi county, east China's Anhui Province. (People's Daily Online/Wang Rui)

Shi Jidong, a tea farmer in Qiaolian village of the township, has a tea garden covering 6 mu. In the past two months, Shi's income from the tea garden had reached nearly 30,000 yuan.

"The income per mu is better than that in previous years. I owe it all to Wang's efforts," Shi said.

Zheng Lin quit his job in a big city and returned to his hometown in Muta township, Dongzhi county to run his family's tea company together with his father by leveraging technology.

During the company's tea production in the past more than 30 years, technology has become the key to upgrading the tea industry and increasing the farmers' incomes, Zheng said.

According to Zheng, six people can manage his family's tea garden covering 3,500 mu thanks to the deployment of technological equipment.

Photo shows the tea garden of Zheng Lin's family in Dongzhi county, east China's Anhui Province. (People's Daily Online/Wang Rui)

In recent years, the tea garden has adopted an Internet of Things platform, coupled with a satellite remote sensing data monitoring system, to monitor the growth of tea plants and pest situations and collect information on environmental factors, climate conditions, and soil moisture content. It has gradually established a data model and improved the quality of tea trees.

Digital planting modes such as precision irrigation and fertilization during the tea planting process can reduce manual labor input by over 30 percent.

The company can produce nearly 3,500 kilograms of new tea a year, with sales hitting around 5 million yuan.

Zheng has also collaborated with neighboring villages to introduce tea planting and tea garden management techniques to farmers, which has helped them boost their incomes.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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