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Kiwifruit farmer spurs high-altitude rural vitalization in Tibet

Updated: Nov 25, 2022 Print
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Zheng Tiancheng has been running a kiwifruit plantation in Zayul county in the Tibet autonomous region for a decade, and his business has financially benefited many villagers in the county over the past few years.

Originally from Ya'an in Sichuan province, almost 1,300 kilometers from Zayul, Zheng came to Zayul in 2011 to set up the plantation.

Zayul is located in a mountain valley in a transitional zone between the Himalayas and the Hengduan Mountains, and has an average altitude of 2,800 meters. Its climate is complex and diverse, with abundant annual rainfall, a mild climate and moderate sunshine.

"I found the climactic and geological conditions suitable for growing kiwifruit, and that's why I chose here to start my business in 2011," said Zheng, whose orchards are located at about 1,500 meters above the sea.

He is a pioneer in planting the crop in Zayul, and also the first to benefit from it, as most villagers did not know what a kiwifruit was at first.

When Zheng started the plantation in 2011 on a 1.3-hectare farm, he encountered a number of difficulties as he had no previous experience of growing the fruit at high altitudes.

"I had to get to know the climate changes, the varieties suitable for growth at high altitude, and I spent many days in the orchard learning how to plant with my technicians," the 60-year-old said.

Zheng grew more than 5,000 kilograms of kiwifruit in 2015, and they sold out immediately, inspiring him to plant a larger area. His business grew into a promising industry.

He set up a company in 2016 and has expanded planting to three other villages in the past few years. His plantations now cover some 75 hectares and in addition to kiwifruit, he also grows citrus and yellow peaches.

Hu Hulong, leader of Sharni village, was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying that his village's unused land was made fertile by renting it out for planting fruits, and villagers have been benefiting along with the business.

"The villagers were used to planting other crops to make a living, but as the popularity of kiwifruit has grown, more and more villagers have been able to benefit financially," he said.

Sharni made an average annual revenue of 610,000 yuan ($85,100) from renting to Zheng, and an average of 300,000 yuan a year in salaries for villagers working on the plantations.

"This year, the yield of kiwifruits and citrus should exceed 500 metric tons, with a value of more than 7 million yuan. I plan to plant yellow peach and yellow citrus in the near future, and help more villagers by increasing the added value of the produce," Zheng said.

He has received a great deal of support from the local government, from market resources and soil improvement, to technical support and business promotion, he added.

Zayul county government has been focusing on developing fruit plantations, and more than 200 hectares of kiwifruit are now grown in the county, with 600 households involved, data from the county's Bureau of Agricultural and Rural Affairs showed.

"In recent years, Zayul county government has been investing in creating centers and providing technical instruction to fruit plantation operators, and we have been supporting the development of kiwifruit plantations," said Lhakpa Tsering, head of the bureau.

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