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Se-enriched industry in Xiantao brings new business opportunities

By YANG YANG | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-07-09 22:06
Se-enriched industry in Xiantao brings new business opportunities

Cheng Guohua (far left), director of the Xiantao Se-enriched Industry Development Office, talks about Se-enriched rice planting with Wang Jiuju (third from left), vice president of China Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO) Xiantao at the COFCO rice farming culture corridor in Xiantao, Central China's Hubei province, July 6, 2017. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Yufan is a "longevity" village with 46 people over 80 years old in Zhenchang county of Xiantao city, Central China's Hubei province. The oldest people in the village are about 101 years old.

People are amazed that so many people have reached such great ages, but until 2013, no one knew the reason why. In that year, Hubei Provincial Geological Survey found out that the soil in Xiantao is naturally enriched with selenium, also known as Se, and that selenium is one of the 14 essential trace elements that is good for human health.

To better use the natural resources and tap business opportunities brought by the Se-enriched soil, the Xiantao Se-enriched Industry Development Office was established at the beginning of 2016.

"The Xiantao government has made great efforts to promote innovative, eco-friendly planting of Se-enriched rice and beans and the cooperation with the China Oils and Foodstuffs Corporation (COFCO) sets a very good example in Se-enriched rice planting", said Cheng Guohua, director of the Xiantao Se-enriched Industry Development Office.

After identifying Se-enriched soil in Xiantao, COFCO signed a 14-year land transfer contract with farmers to plant Se-enriched rice in Lilinzui village, Sanfutan county in the suburb of Xiantao city.

"We use an efficient rice sowing method by spreading seeds directly on the land instead of the nursery and transplanting method, which can save time and reduce labor costs. We also use an advanced production model by connecting the company planting base and farmers. This can improve labor productivity so that the farmers’ income per hectare can increase 50 ($7.35) to 100 yuan every year," said Xiao Fenglin, COFCO Xiantao's production manager.

To guarantee food security and protect the natural environment, only organic fertilizer and bio-pesticides can be used and the herbicide used for Se-enriched rice planting is also green. The whole production, processing, storage and logistics are all mechanized, said Wang Jiuju, vice president of COFCO in Xiantao.

Within two years, Xiantao has developed 26,666 hectares of Se-enriched rice and local residents' income has been hugely increased, Cheng said.

In addition to planting Se-enriched rice, Xiantao also has developed Se-enriched food brands, such as "Xi Lai Fu" bean paste, which embodies people's best wishes that selenium can bring blessings to Xiantao.

Yuan Youyuan, managing director of Xi Lai Fu, has invested about 30 million yuan since the company's was established in September and the company's profit rate is about 20 percent. Yuan is very optimistic about the future of the Se-enriched bean paste industry and would like to establish Xi Lai Fu as a national food brand.

"Natural, organic and Se-enriched bean in Xiantao is anti-cancer, healthy and can make people live longer. All the beans we use to produce bean paste are collected directly from the farmer and no food additives are added during the production process. We want to make Xi Lai Fu bean paste a world famous brand like Lao Gan Ma chili sauce," Yuan said .

Since the Hubei Se-enriched Industry Development Plan was launched in 2015, a great many new business opportunities have emerged and local income has greatly increased, but Xiantao always puts environmental protection ahead of economic benefits, Cheng said.

To make sure organic fertilizer is used to plant crops, people mix poultry manure and crop straw, a source of rural pollution, to produce biological fertilizer. This fertilizer also provides good nourishment to pleurotus eryngii. To turn waste straw into precious fertilizer, Xiantao produces a lot of pleurotus eryngii and has established an eco-friendly planting industry chain, Cheng added.

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