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Tangerines Enrich farmers in Xiangshan

Farmers picking ripe mandarin oranges known as “Hong Mei Ren (reddish beauty)” (Xiaotang Township People's Government Image

During the ongoing peak season, walking into the citrus planting shed of Yuelou Village, Xiaotang Township, Xiangshan County, farmers are busy taking online orders, picking fruits, and packaging, all hustle and bustle.

Yuelou Village, the forerunner of tangerine cultivation in Xiaotang Township, Xiangshan County, homes over 1,500 people in 446 households, in which 80% of the farming households are planting “reddish beauty”, covering a thousand mus with an annual output value of over 80,000 Yuan each mu.

Things are not quite the same a decade ago. Farmers at the time were growing satsuma mandarin, a variety of mandarin, and other crops with low economic added value, which were not selling well in the markets because of their low level and homogeneity. The farm industry of the village took a bright turn after the following village cadres helped planters to graft the reddish beauty, tripling, even quadrupling the original output value of mu.  

After a period of planting, farmers found out the “reddish beauty” is delicate and prone to disease even under the slightest shift of temperature and humidity, not to mention severe weather like typhoons.

Farmers proposed to build row covers to lower environmental influences and prepare tangerines for the winter, but found themselves daunted in the face of an exorbitant installation fee of 30,000 yuan per mu. To relieve their concerns, the county introduced a policy in 2011 to provide subsidy specialized for row covers, despite the subsidy going downward in the following years, tangerine growers started to enjoy the benefit brought by the covers— higher output, better quality, pebbly-skin, and sweet taste. “The gone subsidy did not damp villagers’ ardor”, said Huang Hezhen, Secretary of the Party Branch of Yuelou Village. And nowadays, the coverage of tangerine row cover in the village has almost reached 100%.

All kinds of troubles came up with the expanding planting of Hongmeiren citrus. "The recent years have witnessed too many farmers planting the citrus and the clearance price of the citrus. What's worse, some customers have complained about the low quality of products." Chu Zhiliang, farmer of Yuelou Village said.

To ensure the quality of citrus, Xiangshan Qicai Yuelou Fruit and Vegetable Cooperative and Xiangshan Zhushan Citrus Cooperative have been set up successively, providing one package service from cutting propagation, fertilizer proportioning, to distribution channels and packaging. "Farmers now work together as a team. They share planting technology, jointly build experience market and expand distribution channels." Huang Hezhen said.

Huang Qianhu, chairman of the Xiangshan Qicai Yuelou Fruit and Vegetable cooperative, said that a quarter of citrus has been picked by the 62 households of the cooperative and delivered to all provinces as soon as possible. "Due to the epidemic, deliveries cannot reach some areas in time, so the distribution process is slower than last year." But Huang Qianhu is still positive, saying that "This year, the quality of Hongmeiren citrus is better. I'm sure we will receive big demand when the epidemic is controlled.

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