‘New farm­ers’ fo­cus on green agri­cul­ture

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By XIN­HUA in Xi’an

Feng Xiaoyan views her­self as a “new farmer”, de­spite be­ing 53 years old. She is con­tracted to grow or­ganic pota­toes on 1,333 hectares of land in her­home­town in the north­west province of Shaanxi, and she es­tab­lished her own brand, Sis­ter Potato, in 2009.

“I’m not young, but I think like young peo­ple in the in­ter­net age,” Feng­said at the on­go­ing 2016 China Yan­gling Agri­cul­tural Hi-Tech Fair in Yan­gling dis­trict, a high-tech agri­cul­tural zone in­Xianyang.

Food safety in China has been ques­tioned due to the overuse of pes­ti­cides, fer­til­iz­ers and chem­i­cal ad­di­tives. Feng, see­ing an op­por­tu­nity for the trans­for­ma­tion of Chi­nese agri­cul­ture, de­cided to plant eco-friendly pota­toes to in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

Feng was a teacher for eight years in her home­town in Zizhou county be­fore she worked as a gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial in Tongchuan from 1990 to 1994.

Feng said the qual­ity of her pota­toes is the ma­jor rea­son for her suc­cess. From the be­gin­ning, she brought in the best potato va­ri­eties in the world and em­ployed ex­perts from home and abroad to en­sure she used the most so­phis­ti­cated plant­ing tech­niques.

She also takes ad­van­tage of so­cial me­dia to pro­mote her prod­ucts.

“Us­ing mi­croblogs as a free ad­ver­tis­ing plat­form helps us at­tract more cus­tomers,” Feng said.

A Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture re­port shows that China has about 2 mil­lion new farm­ers whosell their pro­duceon­pop­u­lar on­line plat­forms such as Taobao, Weibo andWeChat.

Com­pared with tra­di­tional farm­ers, they are gen­er­ally well-ed­u­cated. Some even have an over­seas ed­u­ca­tion.

Wang Xiaotie, a grad­u­ate from Yan­gling-based North­west Agri­cul­ture and ForestryUniver­sity, is one such new farmer.

In2012, hegave­uphis job as the gen­eral man­ager of a veg­etable ex­port com­pany in Bei­jing and went back to Yan­gling, a test­ing ground for newa­gri­cul­ture tech­nol­ogy.

“Or­ganic agri­cul­ture and cir­cu­lar agri­cul­ture are not new terms, but are in­her­ited fromthewis­do­mof our an­ces­tors. We only have to ob­serve the laws of na­ture to plant high-qual­ity fruit,” Wang said.

Wang has a kiwi or­chard cov­er­ing 33 hectares. To en­sure that all his ki­wis are or­ganic, Wang built a fence around the or­chard to sep­a­rate it from sur­round­ing farm­land.

“We use or­ganic fer­til­izer— cow dung and sheep ma­nure — from the In­ner Mon­go­lia au­ton­o­mous re­gion in our or­chard,” Wang said.

Last month, his ki­wis won or­ganic cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the United States, the Euro­pean Union, Ja­pan and China.

Du Zhix­iong, a re­search fel­low at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sci­ences, said he is not sure if all pro­duce from the new farm­ers is up to the stan­dards of “or­ganic pro­duce”, but praised the am­bi­tion of such farm­ers.

“Or­ganic pro­duce has be­come a sym­bol and an aim of Chi­nese new farm­ers,” he said. “In this sense, they are con­tribut­ing to the coun­try’s food safety.”

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