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Sea buckthorn a boon for county in Hebei

By ZHANG YU in Shijiazhuang | China Daily | Updated: 2023-11-21 10:06

A farmer displays sea buckthorn berries he harvested in Guyuan county in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Sea buckthorn — a shrub bearing orange-red edible berries — has improved the lives of local farmers in Guyuan county in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, boosting their incomes and fueling prosperity.

As every plant growing in the county appears to wither as autumn approaches, the small sea buckthorn fruits become more red, full and clear, stacked on branches like strings of small lanterns.

"Autumn is the best time of the year for harvesting sea buckthorn berries, which have become sweet," said Liu Sudong, head of Xiaochang town, which is the major planting area for sea buckthorns.

According to Liu, the county has planted sea buckthorn trees on a total area of 7,000 hectares, with an annual output of more than 10,000 metric tons for its fruit. Locals can collectively earn as much as 50 million yuan ($6.8 million) a year doing jobs related to picking and processing the fruit, he said.

Among the dense sea buckthorn trees, villagers can be seen wearing thick gloves, holding branches with one hand and scissors in the other. They neatly cut the fruit-bearing branches into about 10-centimeter-long segments and then dropped them into baskets.

Picking sea buckthorn fruit has emerged as a welcome job opportunity for locals in recent years, as it gives people work from September to November, the autumn harvest period.

"You can get over 4 yuan for each kilogram of the berries. So if I work hard enough each day, I can pick more than 250 kg, which is more than 1,000 yuan," said Wang Hongwei, a villager in Xiaochang village of the town.

Claiming to be one of the first people in Guyuan to pick sea buckthorn fruit, Wang said he started making money from it in 2018, when he earned more than 10,000 yuan after signing an agreement with a local processing company, Zhangyuan Shengguo Agriculture Technology Co, to supply them with the fruit.

Encouraged by the pay, Wang went fruit picking again the next year, but this time he hired other villagers to join him. He then collected the fruit they picked and sent it to the company.

So far this year, he has earned more than 20,000 yuan from fruit picking. He said the extra income has allowed him to live a better life.

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