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Kiwi harvest is ripe for global appeal

China Daily | Updated: 2021-07-22 07:55
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Squatting in his orchard, Wang Manliang checks the plentiful green kiwi fruits on the branches and expertly picks off the bad ones.

"The sunburned fruit often turns out to be unqualified even if it matures," says Wang, pointing to a long brown bar on the side of a kiwi fruit, which indicates an excessive amount of sunlight. "You cannot muddle through when it comes to the quality."

Wang owns an orchard in Ningqu village, Meixian county in Northwest China's Shaanxi province. The county is dubbed as "hometown to kiwi fruits" in China due to its long cultivation history that dates back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

As China's main production area of the kiwi fruit, Meixian grows one out of every seven kiwi fruits in China, accounting for about a tenth of the world's total output.

Wang began to plant kiwi fruits 12 years ago, but he failed to increase production due to a lack of technique and experience.

Things looked up when a planting demonstration park was set up in the village, attracting experts who now provide training and guidance for local farmers.

Since the standardized planting techniques were introduced and promoted in the village, Wang saw his income from the orchard double as a result of the new agricultural model.

Currently, he can earn around 30,000 yuan ($4,630) annually from the harvest of each 2,000-square-meter area of soil.

As of 2020, Meixian county had planted more than 200 square kilometers of kiwi fruits, with an annual yield of around 500,000 tons and a value of 5.5 billion yuan.

The burgeoning kiwi industry now contributes to about 80 percent of the per capita disposable income for local farmers.

To improve the fruit quality, the county has teamed up with the Northwest A&F University to promote key growing techniques, including pollination, sod cultivation in orchards and scientific pruning among the farmers, and guide them to comply with eco-friendly and organic food standards.

"The scientific and standardized production model we have introduced aims to make the local kiwi fruit industry tilt toward modern agriculture rather than separated forms," says Liu Zhisheng, the county's Party chief, adding that standards have also been adopted in postproduction procedures covering fruit sorting, refrigeration and further processing.

Equipped with advanced sorting facilities and large-scale cold storage, the county's national-level kiwi fruit industrial park has attracted more than 20 enterprises and now boasts an annual storage volume of up to about 100,000 tons of fruit.

China's major e-commerce platforms, including Alibaba and JD, also joined the bonanza, selling around 60,000 tons of seasonal fresh kiwi fruits online every year.

Kiwi fruits processed by companies, including Shaanxi Qifeng Fruit Industry, a leader in the country's kiwi fruit production, have been exported to many regions over the globe, such as Europe, Southeast Asia and the Middle East, according to Dang Honggang, deputy director of the industrial park.

Last year, about 40 tons of kiwi fruits from Meixian were exported to Santiago, Chile-the first time China has exported the product to South America.

"It indicates that the standardization level and our fruit quality are gaining recognition in the global market. We believe our kiwi fruits will continue to gain ground worldwide," says Liu.


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