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Young farmers rejuvenate agriculture

China Daily | Updated: 2019-09-18 09:58
A visitor picks tomatoes in a greenhouse at a village in Jinzhong, Shanxi province. [Photo/Xinhua]

TAIYUAN-With banana, papaya and dragon fruit dangling in the air, Li Fuchun's orchard on the Loess Plateau in northern China gives off a rather tropical vibe.

In the past, tropical fruit was transported thousands of kilometers from southern China to Shanxi province where Li's orchard is based, often arriving less than fresh. To have more of such fresh fruit, the 38-year-old set out to explore techniques to grow them locally five years ago.

Today, Li's greenhouse attracts many tourists who pack the orchard to enjoy a new experience of picking the tropical fruit themselves.

The unconventional farming method that Li pioneered in Yangliang village, Jinzhong, has expanded to 26 other bases across the province.

In recent years, more young people like Li have become engaged in farming, gradually changing the landscape in more ways than one.

China has an aging farming population. Surveys carried out by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on more than 20,000 families in rural areas have concluded that the average age of China's frontline agricultural labor force is around 53, with those older than 60 accounting for more than 25 percent.

However, more educated young people are joining the sector with new technologies and business models. Many equip their farms with drones, sensors and automated machinery, and market their products through various online platforms.

A survey by the ministry found that the number of so-called new farmers-those under the age of 45, or with a high school qualification or above-rocketed more than 6 million in 2017 to reach 15 million.

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