by Xinhua writers Chen Xiao, Deng Nan
WUHAN, Sept. 30 (Xinhua) -- Cao Guiyuan has had a busy harvest season on her peach plantation in central China's Hubei Province.
The 34-year-old has done well to transform more than 200 hectares of barren land in Xinzhou district in the city of Wuhan into a vast and thriving peach plantation.
"With the higher temperatures and drier weather, the quality of the peach gum improves," Cao said, adding that the continuous fair weather this summer has resulted in plump globs of peach gum, which can be processed into food products.
Over the past few days, her processing workshop has been running non-stop. Cao calculated that the amount of gum processed since June has doubled that during the same period last year. Batches of gum have been sold across the country and exported to Singapore, Malaysia and other countries.
However, her plantation was once a piece of barren land that few were willing to cultivate due to irrigation difficulties.
Cao, who used to run a fruit store, spotted an opportunity. Noting that peach trees, being drought-tolerant, seemed to thrive in this otherwise difficult soil, she decided in 2012 to start her own peach orchard.
"It usually takes a peach tree three years to bear fruit, and requires much work and investment in the early stage," Cao said.
Cao gradually mastered the techniques of peach tree cultivation and saw good results on her land. Meanwhile, she started mulling new ways to boost the wealth of local farmers, many of whom followed her example and planted peach trees on their own land.
"In March, the peach blossoms came out, and we held a peach blossom festival to attract tourists," she said. "In May, the trees bore fruit, and we provided tourists with a fruit-picking experience. In June, the peach gum began exuding and could be processed and sold."
In time, Cao's company was able to build the facilities for sorting, processing and packing the peach products. Now, making use of its mature processing skills and high-quality products, it has expanded to process raw peach gum from all over the country.
These days, the plantation's annual peach gum output is about 600,000 kg, while the annual revenue from processing and selling peach gum is about 35 million yuan (4.9 million U.S. dollars). About 20,000 jobs have been provided to locals.
Farmers are employed by Cao in various processing jobs and a "poverty alleviation workshop" has been established.
He Jianjun, an official with the Sandian Subdistrict of Xinzhou District, said the base has promoted local employment. It provides opportunities for locals, especially the elderly and women left behind in the village, to work and earn money.
"I work at the base in my spare time. In 2021, I worked for almost eight months and earned more than 16,000 yuan, which is much higher than the income from farming," said Zhou Xi'ai, a 69-year-old villager.
"Dare to think, dare to act, decide on a good direction and stick to the end," said Cao. "I believe that with such qualities, we can make a difference on the rural land."