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Partnership raises fruit produce

Andros China's engineers help Linyi farmers grow better varieties, optimize yields

By WANG ZHUOQIONG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-06-18 09:19
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Farmers harvest at an Andros plantation base in Linyi, Shandong province, in May. [PHOTO/CHINA DAILY]

In a small town in East China, farmers are generating good income from producing quality and fresh fruits, thanks to a collaboration with Andros China.

Wang Yongfeng, a 47-year-old farmer from Linyi, Shandong province, manages a 50 mu (3.3 hectares) fruit farm, collaborating closely with the company, a joint venture between Andros Group, a food and agricultural enterprise based in France, and Beijing Capital Agribusiness & Foods Group.

The partnership has empowered local farmers with French agriculture know-how, spanning seed selection to disease control, significantly boosting productivity and resilience against extreme weather conditions like frost and hail.

"Engineers from Andros have worked with us to experiment with methods to grow better fruits, such as deploying facilities crucial to shield strawberries during adverse weather, optimizing yields and reducing the mortality of the strawberries," said Wang.

During peak season, Wang's fruit farm hires about 70 people, mostly elders from nearby villages. His farm produces a maximum 2.5 metric tons per mu, generating an annual revenue of 150,000 yuan ($20,672), he added.

Damien Chapoulart, director of fruits at Andros Group, which has produced a diverse range of high-quality fruit processing products in food service, industrial and retail sectors, said the company has provided a star project in Shandong for three years and the size of the program has been doubled every year, to implement efficient strawberry farming with good quality varieties.

The JV, which has distributed in more than 150 cities in China and exports to 20 countries and regions in the Asia Pacific, expanded a new plant in Shandong province this year, equipping it with French fruit processing lines and freezers imported from Europe.

The strawberry plant in Shandong has produced 800 tons of fruit products so far this year. In fact, strawberry and raspberry jams are sought by many city dwellers in China to make their breakfasts richer.

"We rely on the know-how of farmers here. Our first job is to find the best farmers in every area, and some of them have a great wealth of knowledge. The idea is to work with them to make the best practice to grow the plant, to harvest, the best tools that they can have for the machinery," he said.

Digital applications and modern farming techniques are integral to ensuring both profitability and quality in fruit production, he said.

"The company has strong faith in its operations in China to run a long-term business. Having been in China since 1998, China is a strategic pillar for us. Our home is Europe. We have hoped to develop a second home here to provide fruit products for China, but also for the rest of Asia."

China is a leading country for fruit production in the world, he added.

"China has amazing wealth in fruits, with tropical fruits in the south and continental fruits in the north," Chapoulart added.

"Our role here is to give value to the fruit wealth of China by helping farmers grow fruit in a qualitative and efficient way and 'cook' it into trendy and delicious products for the Chinese market so that people can maintain this supply chain and sector," he said.

Last year, the Chinese and French governments together launched an initiative, called "From the French farm to the Chinese table".

Cedric Prevost, counselor for agricultural affairs, at the French embassy in China, said the two countries are eager to make the initiative concrete and operational.

"We have very close ties in agriculture to develop bilateral cooperation in many fields, including research, vocational training, wine, raising cattle, and also to develop trade between our two countries," Prevost said.

"Investing in China allows Andros to enrich bilateral agricultural collaboration, offering Chinese consumers a taste of French quality and diversity," he said.

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