Why do they live so long? Soil gets credit

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By YANG YANG

Yu­fan is a “longevity vil­lage” with 46 peo­ple over 80 years old in Xiantao, Hubei prov­ince. The old­est have lived more than 100 years.

Out­siders have long mar­veled at the num­bers, but un­til 2013 no one knew the rea­son. That year, the Hubei Ge­o­log­i­cal Sur­vey found that the soil in Xiantao is nat­u­rally en­riched with se­le­nium, or Se, one of the 14 essen­tial trace el­e­ments that are good for hu­man health.

To bet­ter use the nat­u­ral re­sources and tap the busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties brought by the soil, the Xiantao Se-en­riched In­dus­try De­vel­op­ment Of­fice was es­tab­lished last year.

“The Xiantao gov­ern­ment has made great ef­forts to pro­mote in­no­va­tive, eco-friendly plant­ing of Se-en­riched rice and beans, and the co­op­er­a­tion with the China Oils and Food­stuffs Corp sets a very good ex­am­ple,” said Cheng Guo­hua, di­rec­tor of the of­fice.

Af­ter iden­ti­fy­ing the Se-en­riched soil in Xiantao, COFCO signed a 14-year land trans­fer con­tract with farm­ers to plant Se-en­riched rice in Lil­inzui vil­lage, which is in a sub­urb of Xiantao.

“We use an ef­fi­cient rice­sow­ing method, spread­ing seeds di­rectly on the land in­stead of us­ing a nurs­ery and trans­plan­ta­tion method. Di­rect plant­ing can save time and re­duce la­bor costs,” said Xiao Fenglin, COFCO Xiantao’s pro­duc­tion man­ager.

“We also use an ad­vanced pro­duc­tion model that con- nects the com­pany’s plant­ing base with farm­ers. This can im­prove la­bor pro­duc­tiv­ity so that the farm­ers’ in­come per hectare can in­crease by 50 to 100 yuan ($7.50 to $15) ev­ery year.”

To guar­an­tee food se­cu­rity, only or­ganic fer­til­iz­ers and bio-pes­ti­cides can be used. The whole pro­duc­tion, in­clud­ing pro­cess­ing, stor­age and lo­gis­tics, is mech­a­nized, said Wang Ji­uju, vice-pres­i­dent of the com­pany in Xiantao.

In ad­di­tion to plant­ing Se-en­riched rice, Xiantao also has de­vel­oped Se-en­riched food brands, such as Xi­laifu bean paste, which em­bod­ies peo­ple’s hopes that se­le­nium will bring bless­ings to Xiantao.

Yuan Youyuan, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Xi­laifu, has in­vested about 30 mil­lion yuan since the com­pany was es­tab­lished in Septem­ber, and said its prof­its are about 20 per­cent.

“Nat­u­ral, or­ganic, Se-en­riched beans in Xiantao are anti-cancer, healthy and can make peo­ple live longer. All the beans we use to pro­duce bean paste are col­lected di­rectly from the farmer and noth­ing is added.”

Lo­cal peo­ple’s in­comes have in­creased sig­nif­i­cantly since Xiantao started to de­velop the Se-en­riched in­dus­try about two years ago. For ex­am­ple, nor­mal rice is about 2.5 yuan per kilo­gram, but the Se-en­riched rice is about 40 yuan per kg.

EN­VI­RON­MENT

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