Following some light rainfall in early spring, bamboo shoots in the mountains of East China's Fujian province quietly popped out of the soil, showing their bright yellow heads.
Early in the morning, Liu Yifu, a bamboo farmer in Dongshan village, in the city of Nanping, went into the mountains with a sack and a hoe to dig up the bamboo shoots. He gently scraped away the dirt, then hoed and lifted them skillfully. Soon, his sack was full.
"One of every 10 bamboo plants in China is from Nanping," Liu said. As a well-known production area for bamboo shoots, Nanping boasts more than 6.5 million mu (about 433,000 hectares) of lush green bamboo forest and an annual output of 278 million bamboo plants.
In 2016, Liu, optimistic about the prospects of bamboo growing, established a forestry cooperative with his friends, and rented over 700 mu of land in the mountains.
"In recent years, bamboo shoots and bamboo bring us an annual income of about 2 million yuan (about $290,800)," Liu said.
To further improve efficiency, Liu plans to invest more than 1 million yuan this year to upgrade 200 mu of the bamboo forest, which is expected to bring an average annual output of over 8,000 yuan per mu.
The rich bamboo resources provide favorable conditions for the development of the local bamboo industry.
In the workshop of Nanping-based Chaoyang Bamboo Hat Industry Co Ltd, a single bamboo plant can be made into about 25 bamboo weaving helmets after cutting, drawing, weaving, mildew and moth prevention, shaping, painting and other processes.
"A bamboo plant costs about 20 yuan. A helmet can fetch 25 yuan, the output value of a bamboo plant exceeds 600 yuan," said Lin Chaoyang, head of the company.
Not far from the hat company, the production workshop of Shuangyi Bamboo and Wood Co Ltd is currently operating at full speed. "In recent years, we have launched dozens of kinds of bamboo products, such as furniture and daily necessities, some of which sell well in Europe and the United States," said Li Zhisheng, head of the company. The output value of the company reached over 300 million yuan last year, said Li.
Now home to 1,031 bamboo processing enterprises, Nanping has formed a complete bamboo industrial chain, with relevant products exported to dozens of countries and regions.
"In 2022, the total output value of Nanping's bamboo industry surpassed 48 billion yuan, ranking first in the province for many years," said Xie Tenghui, director of the municipal forestry bureau.
Xie said that nearly 350,000 people in Nanping, which has a population of 2.67 million, are now engaged in bamboo forest cultivation and other related work.