Across China: Coffee craze brings wealth to southwestern farmers

Source: Xinhua| 2017-11-30 19:39:24|Editor: Liangyu
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KUNMING, Nov. 30 (Xinhua) -- After lunch, Huang Chuanhe and his wife are too busy to take a nap. They quickly harvest ripe coffee plants while the weather is still good.

Huang, a farmer in the village of Padangba in southwest China's Yunnan province, owns more than 3 hectares of coffee plantation -- the main source of his family income. Last year, the coffee business brought him more than 100,000 yuan (15,131 U.S. dollars) of revenue.

Ten years ago, with help from the local government and a coffee company called Hogood, Huang and other Padangba farmers started growing coffee.

"We used to grow sugarcane and were reluctant to switch to coffee," Huang said. "After visiting other villages and seeing their gains, some of us gave it a try."

Now, a decade later, more than half of the local villagers are growing coffee over an area of 55 hectares, transforming the fortunes of a once impoverished village.

Hogood say they have encouraged about 400,000 farmers in Yunnan to plant coffee over an area of 18,000 hectares, and increased their income by more than 384 million yuan since 2007.

In order to guarantee the quality of the coffee beans and protect the interest of the villagers, the coffee company provides free seedlings and technical guidance. A protective pricing system is also in place to free the villagers from anxiety about sales and income.

"The best thing about growing coffee is that it's less tiring compared to growing sugarcane," Huang said. "During the harvest season, the elderly and children can all come to help pick the coffee plants."

China consumed 128,200 tonnes of coffee beans last year. With an average annual growth rate of over 22 percent since 2006, it is one of the world's largest coffee consumers.

As the main coffee-producing base in China, Yunnan accounts for more than 98 percent of the country's total coffee planting area and coffee production.

In 2016, the province saw 116,667 hectares of coffee grown, churning out 136,000 tonnes of coffee. About 73,000 tonnes of coffee were exported overseas last year, generating an export revenue of 280 million U.S. dollars, according to the provincial department of agriculture.

"The coffee consumption market in China has strong growth potential," said Hu Lu, vice president of the Coffee Association of Yunnan. "The development of the coffee industry in the province can help alleviate poverty effectively."

"I am so glad that I made the right decision ten years ago," Huang said. "Growing coffee changed our lives and helped us shake off poverty."