Going organic helps fruit business blossom

Updated: Jan 27, 2021 By ZHAO XINYING China Daily Print
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Farmers sort navel oranges in Huichang county, Jiangxi province, on Dec 8, 2020. [Photo by ZHU HAIPENG/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Standing among navel orange trees hung with golden fruit as chickens walked and ate the grass around her feet, Wang Qiongfang used a livestream to show her audience the organic citrus fruit and eggs she harvests from her orchard.

The online platform is a new way for the 43-year-old to boost her business, and the orchard's beautiful scenery has attracted a large number of followers. Some purchase Wang's produce regularly.

"Through livestreaming, audiences, especially high-end people from big cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou (capital of Guangdong province), can see what my orchard looks like and how the oranges and eggs are harvested. They are very curious about, and interested in, these things," Wang said.

She added that she already had more than 20,000 followers on all types of online platforms. That's a satisfactory number given that she has only been doing the livestreams for a short time.

"What's more, the freshness and high quality seen via the livestream have great appeal for the audience, encouraging some people to become frequent buyers," she said.

Located in Xiaomi, a township in Huichang county in the eastern province of Jiangxi, Wang's orange orchard only covered 6.7 hectares in 2003 when she and her family relocated there from Hubei province.

Her husband, Wu Chengxiao, concentrated on growing the produce, while Wang took responsibility for sales.

The couple's efforts quickly saw their orchard expand to 47 hectares.

However, as the orchard grew, weeding became a major problem because the use of herbicides would affect the quality of the oranges, while hiring workers to weed the land manually would be too costly.

Faced with that dilemma, the couple decided to go organic and raise chickens in the orchard.

They knew the birds would eat the grass and weeds, while their droppings would provide organic fertilizer for the trees.

In early 2019, the couple invested 300,000 yuan ($46,300) to build coops and buy about 5,000 chickens from Hubei and launch their new venture.

The move helped Wang and Wu reduce costs and improve the orange yield, so they have tasted the sweetness of going organic.

The trees now yield 500 to 600 metric tons of oranges each year, while the chickens lay more than 5,000 eggs a day, with each selling at 2 yuan on online platforms.

The combination of traditional markets and online platforms means Wang never needs to worry about sales of her produce.

Organic eggs are especially popular with consumers in big cities who are pursuing better quality of life and believe in the nutritional value and safety of organic food.

"Our entire daily clutch of eggs usually sells out the same day," Wang said.

Tian Zimu, Liu Yue and Chen Xia'nan contributed to this story.

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