Mysterious Chinese berry brings solid profits
By Han Lei (
Updated: 2006-08-30 09:21

Gouqi, a popular herb in China, has helped farmers shake off poverty in Zhongning County, Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region.

Dubbed as the "Home of Gouqi", the county has the country's best geographic and climate conditions for growing the herb, also known as the Chinese wolfberry. In 2005, 42 percent of China's total output of the herb was produced in Zhongning.

As a result, Gouqi-related industries are thriving and becoming the pillar of this northwest China county. It set a good example of making full use of natural conditions to spur economic growth.

The little red berry has brought a total revenue of 160 million yuan (US$19.27) to Ningxia in 2005, accounting for 39.1 percent of the region's total agricultural revenue.

Some regional giants in Gouqi-related products have emerged. Among them, the most famous one is the Ningxiahong Wolfberry Wine.

As the world's largest professional wolfberry processor, the company covers its business in wolfberry wine and liquor, biological products, flour processing, purified water, packaging and printing.

The company is expected to purchase 12,000 tons of wolfberry from local farmers this year, creating 60 million yuan of direct income for the growers, said a statement on the company's website.

The per capita net income of local farmers hit 2,961 yuan (US$357) last year, higher than the national average, a remarkable achievement for a region in one of the poorest regions in China.

Gouqi has no doubt become a cash cow for Zhongning. The county's example demonstrates that tailor-made agriculture can greatly raise farmers' incomes and at the same time may serve as a platform for nurturing related industries.