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Strawberries bring sweetness to villagers in rural Liaoning

Updated: Apr 13, 2023 China Daily Print
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His face beaded with sweat, Cai Hengwei busily picks strawberries grown in his greenhouses in the village of Diyinhe, Zhuanghe city, Northeast China's Liaoning province.

There is good reason for the farmer to get a move on.

"This strawberry season will end in May, so we have to hurry up to get a good harvest," said Cai, whose eyes keenly search out the ripest fruit.

"My family leased a pair of greenhouses, and today we've picked some 40 kilograms of strawberries," Cai noted.

After being weighed, the strawberries are loaded onto a truck. Based on the purchasing price of the day, the strawberries are sold for over 800 yuan ($116).

"From planting seedlings in September last year to harvesting in May, excluding the cost of renting and the seedlings, the gross annual profit of these two greenhouses can reach 200,000 yuan, which is better than being a migrant worker," said Cai.

The villagers in Diyinhe used to be unable to earn much money by farming. To improve their incomes, most chose to take jobs away from their home village, and Cai was one of them.

"After I graduated from middle school at the age of 17, I went to work in Dalian, and took various jobs," Cai said.

"After more than 10 years working away from home, I got married and had children, and I thought about going back to my hometown to start a business."

In 2020, Diyinhe built greenhouses with the support of government funds to develop strawberry planting. Cai, who'd just returned home, signed up immediately.

"I had never planted strawberries and I knew nothing about strawberry planting at first," Cai recalled, saying that his strawberry seedlings all died due to disease less than a month after he planted them for the first time in September 2020.

Looking at the withered strawberry seedlings in the field, Cai was determined to learn more about strawberry planting techniques.

"I learned from scratch, and I will continue to learn from whoever grows them well," he said.

From planting seedlings to fertilization, every step of strawberry planting involves technical work. After unremitting efforts, Cai has gradually mastered the "secrets" of planting, and the strawberries he plants are plump and sweet to the taste.

"Inspired by Cai, some villagers have also begun planting strawberries to increase their incomes," said Li Xiao, a village official.

Not long ago, Li invited strawberry planting experts to give a lecture in the village, attracting some 20 villagers to attend.

Following the advice of the experts, Cai has new expectations. "Next year, I plan to introduce a new variety called 'Snow White', which is more expensive and sells better," he said.

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