Aerial photo taken on Dec. 5, 2021 shows people picking kumquats at a kumquat orchard in Rongan County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. (Xinhua/Zhang Ailin)
NANNING, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- After the cold wave hit, fruit farmer Mo Yingjian rushed to the kumquat field early in the morning to repair the damaged greenhouses.
In Changlong Village, Rongan County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, white plastic greenhouses stand in the vast expanse of kumquat fields and fresh fruits hang on all the tree branches.
"The kumquat trees are hard to care for. The trees have to be covered with plastic film to protect them from wind, rain and frost in winter," said Mo, who has grown this fruit for many years in Changlong. "The first batch of kumquats this year is now ready to be picked. The high-quality kumquats can sell for as much as 70 yuan (about 10 U.S. dollars) per kilogram."
Rongan County -- known as the "hometown of kumquat in China" -- is the country's main kumquat production base and has cultivated this fruit for nearly 300 years. In recent years, Rongan has extended kumquat planting to 12 townships in the county, making it one of the main industries in its rural revitalization drive.
Mo planted about 1.33 hectares of kumquat this year, which is expected to yield about 30,000 kg of fruit. "According to the current market price, I can earn more than 100,000 yuan," Mo said. "The sales price of Rongan kumquat has continued to rise in recent years. I will expand the planting area in the future."
According to data provided by the rural revitalization bureau of Rongan, the planting area of kumquat in the county reached over 14,333 hectares in 2022, with an estimated total output of 220,500 tonnes and a total output value of 2.85 billion yuan. More than 100,000 people have engaged in the industry and the per capita income is expected to exceed 10,000 yuan.
Villagers carry newly-picked kumquats in Dajiang Township, Rongan County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Dec. 5, 2021. (Xinhua/Zhang Ailin)
"Rongan kumquat is the county's signature industry to promote rural revitalization. The county is leading the healthy development of the kumquat industry through standardization and industrialization," said Yu Fujian, head of Rongan County.
At present, 20 kumquat production enterprises in Rongan have obtained the green food certification, with a certified planting area of over 7,440 hectares, Yu said, adding that a collective kumquat orchard and three modern agricultural core demonstration areas had been established for large-scale and intensive industrial development.
At the kumquat base of Bide, an ecological agriculture company in Rongan, trucks filled with kumquats were ready to leave. Yang Jinyi, general manager of the company, said since the kumquats went to market in November, the company had sold more than 200,000 kg of kumquats to Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang, and other places, including some from the company's planting bases and some purchased from local farmers.
"We used to cooperate with kumquat farmers through establishing cooperatives. In recent years, as the business expanded, we opened the company. At present, 91 households of fruit farmers are cooperating with the company," Yang said.
"To ensure the fruit's quality, we provide technical planting guidance and fertilizers to farmers. After the fruits are ripe, we buy them at the market price," Yang added.
With the "Rongan kumquat" brand becoming more and more prominent across the country, the company's planting base has expanded from 53.33 hectares in the early stages to more than 200 hectares at present, covering 10 townships.
By joining hands with major e-commerce platforms to expand sales channels, Rongan kumquat's online sales have seen a substantial increase, steering kumquat industry development into the fast lane.
"We're not worried about the sales of Rongan kumquat. During China's online shopping festival 'Double 11' this year, the county's e-commerce sales of kumquat reached 30 million yuan, a year-on-year growth of 50 percent," Yu said.
Now, Rongan has 726 e-commerce enterprises, 23,251 online stores and 50 logistics enterprises. The total value of e-commerce transactions of various products in the county increased from 880 million yuan in 2016 to 5.4 billion yuan in 2021, among which the online sales of Rongan kumquat exceeded 1.9 billion yuan.
Besides fresh kumquat, derivative products such as kumquat cakes and kumquat juice drinks have been introduced to the market in recent years by local kumquat deep processing enterprises.
"The industrial chain of Rongan kumquat is improving and the added value of kumquat products is increasing. The role of the kumquat industry in promoting rural revitalization and increasing farmers' income will continue to strengthen," said Yu. ■