China / Society

Donkey industry calls for financial kick from govt

By Zhao Ruixue in Jinan (China Daily) Updated: 2015-02-04 07:52

A Shandong provincial people's congress member urged authorities to give financial support to the donkey industry in the same way that they do for the cattle and sheep industries.

"Donkeys are seldom seen working in fields anymore, and our country hasn't given any financial support to encourage farmers to raise donkeys for commercial use, which has driven the animal to the verge of extinction," Qin Yufeng, chairman of Dong'e Ejiao Co, told the 12th Shandong People's Congress, which concluded on Sunday.

The company is the largest Chinese maker of ejiao, a traditional Chinese medicine made from donkey hide that can improve blood supply.

Figures from agricultural authorities show the number of donkeys raised on farms dropped to 6 million at the end of 2013 from 11 million in the 1990s.

The shortage of donkeys is also threatening the ejiao industry, Qin said.

Dong'e has raised the factory price of ejiao four times since 2013.

"We are forced to raise the price as the cost of the raw material - donkey hide - keeps increasing," said Qin.

He said that donkey meat and milk contain more nutrients than cattle meat and milk do, which will also be a good way for farmers to make money.

Wu Changxin, a professor from China Agricultural University, said the donkey industry has great potential and would improve the structure of the local economy.

But interest in raising donkeys is low as the animals require more time to produce benefits, Qin said. A female donkey, for example, can give birth to only one foal a year.

"So donkey breeders need financial support during the initial phase of their business," said Qin.

Yu Zhou, from Shandong's animal farming bureau, confirmed that no financial support has been given to the donkey industry.

Chen Ping, deputy Party chief of Liaocheng, said the city will raise 100,000 donkeys this year, and preferential policies on finance and land use will be granted.

Qin suggested that national agricultural authorities allocate at least 20 million yuan to protect and develop donkey species.

Hot Topics