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Daylily lifts North China village out of poverty

By Yang Mengzhuo in Datong, Shanxi | | Updated: 2020-11-06 10:27
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A daylily plantation in Yunzhou district is seen in Datong, Shanxi province, on July 12. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Over the decades, people living in North China's Shanxi province have planted the daylily, an edible flower. But not until five years ago did they find a way out of poverty relying on this little yellow flower.

On a table in a restaurant in Yunzhou district of Shanxi's Datong city, the chef introduced special dishes made with the daylily, from steamed bread to mooncake. Having such a dinner has been an attractive draw for tourists.

In this district, the daylily helped 32,568 local residents shake off poverty by May 2020. The whole industrial chain, from planting to developing relevant products and logistics, has offered thousands of jobs, profits and tax income to individuals and local government.

To encourage people to join in the planting of daylily, the local government offers subsidies of 300 yuan ($45.08) per 0.066 hectares in the first two years, as the flower only matures from the third year of growth.

Wang Bin, a worker in a Sanli Co Ltd food processing factory, is picking high-quality daylilies from a pile of dried flowers.

"I no longer have to plant the daylily fields myself, but rent the land to the cooperation, to earn dividends every year. The work is much easier than before,"Wang said.

The temperature, volcanic soil, and dry weather in Datong made the environment very suitable for planting high-quality daylilies. The local government made the daylily a pillar industry to shake off poverty by the end of 2015, as China sets twin goals - the elimination of "extreme poverty" and the country becoming a "moderately prosperous society" to be achieved in time for the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Party next July.

The daylily industry in Datong is one of the prominent examples of China's poverty alleviation effort. Around the city, 109 villages have established bases for growing the flower and there are 15 leading processing companies, 95 professional cooperatives and 30 major daylily growers with over 20 hectares of daylily fields.

As of the beginning of this year, the daylily fields have increased to 11,333 hectares from 1,120 hectares in 2011 in Yunzhou district, creating an annual revenue of 700 million yuan for local people.

Now the flower can be made into more relevant products, including beverages and facial masks. "The daylily used be a delicacy for local residents, but it was very rare to get a chance to eat it, as it is even more expensive than pork," said An Yiping, director of a special office managing the daylily industry in Yunzhou district.

Some chose to outsource their land to cooperatives and get yearly dividends, like a 61-year-old surnamed Liu from Fangcheng New Village, who gets extra income of about 4,800 yuan from 1.06 hectares of land.

The government also hires college students, cleaners and poverty-stricken households to harvest daylilies in July and August, which can increase young people's income here.

Liu Chaofan, Wang Anning, Ren Changsheng and Lu Yiwen contributed to this story.

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