Cultivating China's avocado capital in rural Yunnan-Xinhua

Cultivating China's avocado capital in rural Yunnan

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-01-12 10:02:15

Farmers sort avocados at an avocado planting base in Nanya Village of Nayun Town, Menglian County, southwest China's Yunnan Province, Sept. 20, 2023. (Xinhua/Hu Chao)

KUNMING, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- With the residents' growing demand for a healthy lifestyle, avocados, also a new celebrity fruit in China, have become a beloved indulgence among the urbanites, especially those dedicated to fitness.

Avocados thrive in full sunlight and moderate temperatures, and are rich in protein and unsaturated fats, earning them the nickname "forest butter." However, in the past, avocados sold in China were mainly imported from other countries.

Little known to the general public, the Dai-Lahu-Va Autonomous County of Menglian, Pu'er City of southwest China's Yunnan Province, now boasts large expanses of avocado cultivation. It is projected that over 10,000 tonnes of avocado fresh fruits will be harvested in the county this year, with a total estimated earnings exceeding 300 million yuan (about 42 million U.S. dollars).

Furthermore, this burgeoning agricultural endeavor benefits each of the participating local households with an average annual income increase of more than 3,000 yuan.

For the Lahu ethnic community residing in Menglian, there was no such word as "avocado" in their ethnic language. They didn't expect that a thing that didn't exist in their own language has now become their cash cow.

"We are located in the same golden latitude as Mexico, which is known as the 'avocado capital of the world.' Our county enjoys over 2,100 hours of sunshine per year and an average annual rainfall of more than 1,300 mm," said Han Bo, the county's deputy head. "With lush greenery all year round and a healthy ecological environment, we are one of the few areas in China capable of producing high-quality avocados on a large scale."

Since 2007, Menglian has not only introduced major avocado varieties to the global market but also collaborated with domestic and foreign experts to conduct research on seed introduction, test planting, and seed expansion. With technical and financial support and subsidies, the local avocado industry has gained steam.

Naduo, who is 53 years old, lives in Nanya Village of Menglian. Her family owns over two hectares of land, where they previously cultivated sugarcane and corn with meager yields. In 2018, village cadres encouraged the locals to join the avocado cooperative.

When she heard the word "avocado," she searched her mind repeatedly but couldn't find the corresponding pronunciation in the Lahu language. Intrigued, she accompanied the local officials to visit an avocado enterprise and even sampled this unfamiliar fruit.

After returning to her village, Naduo diligently sought advice on avocado planting techniques and fruit production. She then decided to invest her fields with the cooperative.

Naduo and her husband also took on the role of caretakers for the cooperative's avocado trees. The new job alone helped the couple rake in 22,000 yuan every year.

Currently, Menglian has become one of China's largest avocado growers, with a cumulative avocado planting area of over 100,000 mu (about 6,667 hectares). Locals not only consume fresh avocados and use them to make delectable milkshakes but also incorporate them into their ethnic cuisine to create a characteristic avocado banquet.

The local avocado cultivation and processing advance also benefits foodies in the big cities of Yunnan.

Chen Haixing, executive chef at Kunming Huayi Hotel in Kunming, capital city of Yunnan, began experimenting with avocado dishes about 12 years ago. At that time, most domestic chefs used avocado only for hot dishes, while it was primarily used for cold dishes abroad.

"Avocado has a relatively mild flavor and requires other ingredients to bring out its own taste," said Chen. "I tried to serve avocado with both red and white meat dishes, but soon found that it was difficult to highlight its unique characteristics."

The smart chef now hollows out avocados and adds Yunnan's local tree tomatoes to make a cold dish. This novel combination helps bring out the best of the avocado's original flavor and has proved to be well-received by consumers, according to Chen. 


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