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Hebei agricultural hub springs back after floods

Updated: Dec 12, 2023 By ZHANG YU in Shijiazhuang China Daily Print
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An agricultural expert teaches farmers planting techniques in a new greenhouse in Raoyang county, Hebei province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

On the morning of Nov 28, trucks loaded with fresh fruit and vegetables left the trading market in Wugu village, Hebei province, and headed toward Shijiazhuang and the nearby cities of Beijing and Tianjin to supply them with fresh vegetables.

A vegetable-growing hub, Hengshui city's Raoyang county has replanted nearly 330 hectares of fruit and vegetables after heavy rains and flooding in late July and early August, in a bid to ensure a good harvest for local farmers and adequate produce for traditional markets. The county is located about 200 kilometers southwest of downtown Beijing. The flooding damaged more than 20,000 fruit and vegetable greenhouses, with over 2,300 needing to be rebuilt, according to the local government.

Facing the challenge, the local government and farmers have taken rapid action to repair and rebuild the greenhouses and plant fruit and vegetables, aiming to fully restore the county's production.

However, in the early days, many farmers faced difficulties getting enough capital, said Zhang Xingmao, director of the county's bureau of agricultural and rural affairs. To ease their difficulties, the county introduced supporting policies such as providing subsidies or loans with discounted interest rates. Various financial institutions have also increased support for post-disaster recovery work, which has helped farmers and businesses resume production, Zhang said.

A total of 92.03 million yuan ($13 million) in loans for post-disaster reconstruction has been provided to the county's fruit and vegetable industry, benefiting 542 households, he said.

"In the past three months, more than 12,000 damaged greenhouses have been repaired, 825 have been reconstructed and 448 new ones have been built," Zhang said, adding that production capacity has been significantly restored and the upgrading of planting facilities accelerated.

By the end of March next year, all the repairs and reconstruction of the damaged greenhouses will have been completed, he said.

"The rebuilt greenhouses are sunlight ones with steel frame structures, which can greatly enhance resistance to natural disasters," said Yang Shan, a fruit and vegetable seedlings grower in Nanbeiyan village.

The seedlings have an emergence rate of over 90 percent and have grown exceptionally well, she added. According to Yang, each of her greenhouses can produce 500,000 to 600,000 seedlings, which are supplied not only to locals, but also to neighboring cities.

Raoyang county has also organized farmers to learn about advanced planting techniques in the new greenhouses, improve reconstruction of agricultural facilities and upgrade agricultural production methods, said Zhang from the bureau of agricultural and rural affairs.

"With the guidance of agricultural experts I have replanted green cabbage and now it's time for the harvest," said Han Jianwei, a farmer from Nanliuman village.

The local government has also helped farmers contact vegetable merchants to solve sales issues, Han said, adding this provides reassurance to farmers.

"After the disaster, we repaired the greenhouses as soon as possible and quickly planted tomatoes. At present, the tomatoes have entered the ripening stage and can be continuously harvested until January next year," said Song Changjiang, a technical expert and large-scale fruit and vegetable grower in Raoyang.

He is also helping other growers with technical guidance and hopes to work together with the growers to improve Raoyang's fruit and vegetable industry.

Zhang said the county has invited agricultural experts from universities and research institutions to provide technical guidance to 65 villages affected by the floods.

"The post-disaster reconstruction is not simply about restoring everything destroyed to its original state, but about upgrading facilities and empowering farmers to embark on a high-quality development road," Zhang said.

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