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Ginseng a cash crop for local suppliers

By Liu Mingtai (China Daily) Updated: 2016-10-14 07:32

A 100-year-old wild ginseng fetched 1.68 million yuan ($250,000) at an auction during the Ji'an Qinghe Wild Ginseng Festival in Northeast China's Jilin province on Sept 11.

"I started growing ginseng more than 30 years ago," said Wang Guiqiu, owner of the precious plant from Qinghe township, Ji'an of Jilin. "My fellow villagers saw I had good profits and followed me in planting and processing ginseng."

The industry has played a significant role in increasing local farmers' income, according to Gai Yunbo, deputy mayor of Ji'an city.

The revenue generated from the industry accounts for 60 percent of the farmers' per-capita net income in Ji'an, Gai said. In Qinghe, a major ginseng-producing region of Ji'an, the revenue accounts for 80 percent of the farmers' net income, he said.

"With rapid social development and people's increasing attention on healthcare, the potential for the industry's growth is huge," Gai said.

Yang Wenhui, acting mayor and deputy Party chief of Ji'an, said: "The festival has laid the foundation for Ji'an to hold international ginseng-culture festivals in the future. We hope to attract more visitors and help them to learn about the city."

The festival effectively improved public awareness of ginseng brands and promoted ginseng knowledge, said Zhong Weitong, leading researcher at the National Ginseng Products Quality Supervision and Inspection Center.

Nonetheless, the development of the ginseng industry is in urgent need of policy support, Zhong said.

Ji'an is dubbed the "hometown of ginseng", with written records of ginseng digging dating back more than 1,700 years. The artificial cultivation of ginseng in the city started nearly 500 years ago.

At present, the city's ginseng plantation area totals 1,000 hectares, accounting for more than 10 percent of the country's total. More than 12,000 people are employed in the sector, and their annual income has increased by 30,000 yuan on average, according to the city government.

Last year, the output of the ginseng plantation business reached 1.3 billion yuan and that of ginseng processing totaled 3.7 billion yuan.

The city currently has 123 ginseng-processing enterprises, the combined capacity of which reached 15,000 metric tons, ranking first in the country, according to the Ji'an government. The city has developed more than 440 ginseng products in medicine, healthcare and cosmetics.

Ji'an is also the world's only region that produces Biantiao ginseng, a variety with a unique planting technique, well-known for its quality, elegant shape and root hair. The processing technique for the ginseng was added to the list of national intangible cultural heritage in November 2014.

After more than 30 years' development, the ginseng market in Ji'an has developed into one of the largest markets for forest-grown ginseng in the country.

Last year, the market's turnover reached 2.2 billion yuan, of which mountain grown ginseng accounts for more than 90 percent of the total transaction volume.

The government has set up a bureau to guide the scientific development of the industry and provide convenient administrative services.

Contest shows herb as delicacy

A contest for cuisine made with ginseng grown in Changbai Mountain was held in Ji'an, Northeast China's Jilin province, on Sept 11 and 12.

The two-day event aimed to improve public awareness about ginseng as a food ingredient.

Twenty-three chefs from 23 restaurants in the province created 65 dishes with ginseng on the spot. Six dishes, including sugar-coated ginseng, won gold awards at the event. Seventeen ginseng producing enterprises displayed their products, such as ginseng drinks, cosmetics and candies.

Liu Fengyan, deputy director of the Jilin provincial Commission of Rural Affairs, said the purpose of the food contest was to help people to see ginseng as more than just herbal medicine, but also a valuable delicacy rich in nutrition and health benefits.

The ginseng industry in Jilin has experienced leapfrog progress since the provincial government launched a campaign to revitalize the industry's development in 2010. The government has worked out a range of measures in systematic management, financial support, and product research and development to boost the industry.

China Daily


 Ginseng a cash crop for local suppliers

Judges inspect ginseng at a competition during this year's Wild Ginseng Festival in Qinghe, Ji'an of Jilin province. Photos By Ding Luyang / For China Daily

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