Potatoes grow wealth in DingxiUpdated: 2016-11-17
By Ge Jieru ( chinadaily.com.cn )
Potatoes have pulled people out of poverty in Dingxi, Ganxu province, thanks to a government program incentivizing their cultivation and the establishment of an entire industry chain, from seed to plate.
Due to their hardy nature, potatoes are one of the few crops which are able to thrive in Dingxi’s infertile soil.
Since 2009, the Gansu Tiandi Agriculture Company has provided locals with potato seeds and in turn offered to purchase the potatoes back, once grown, at a rate 10 percent higher than market price, creating greater income for locals.
“In the past, the purchasing price of a kilogram of potatoes was just 0.4 yuan ($0.05),” said Liu Shiquan, a potato farmer from Dingxi, adding that it was not profitable until Gansu Tiandi stepped in.
Throughout its long history, Dingxi in Gansu province has struggled to find prosperity due to its dry weather and poor farm land. In 1876, Zuo Zongtang, a court official of the Qing Dynasty (AD 1644-1911), wrote to the emperor saying that the area was the poorest in the country. In 1982, the Food and Agricultural Organization rated Dingxi as unsuitable for human habitation. But thanks to potatoes that has all changed.
Dingxi is now home to four potato growing bases run by Gansu Tiandi, covering an area of 4,345 mu (289.66 hectares), which generate more than 40 percent of the district’s total income.
In 2016, Liu earned more than 8,000 yuan from his 0.2-hectare potato plot. “The potato seeds that the company provided me are worth more than 6,000 yuan and quality seeds can help us secure the income,” said Liu.
“The local farmers’ annual income has increased 1,500 yuan in average since we launched the project,” said Du Honghui, a technician from Gansu Tiandi.
Dingxi has today grown to become known as the city of potatoes due to the many farms that grow the tuberous vegetable. A third of its entire production area is dedicated to potato farming, producing 760 million potatoes every year, weighing in at 5 million tons in total.
Farmers prepare their potatoes for market. [Photo/xinhuanet.com]
Technicians from Gansu Tiandi Agriculture Company check the growing conditions of potatoes at the Potato Technology Garden in Dingxi city, Northwest China’s Gansu province. [Photo/xinhuanet.com]
A farmer from Longxi county in Gansu’s Dingxi city checks on his potatoes. [Photo/xinhuanet.com]