Across China: Rice farmers go high-tech for higher sales

Source: Xinhua| 2018-03-24 03:48:40|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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NANCHANG, March 24 (Xinhua) -- For data-sensitive customers, detailed information about the origins of a product can be a strong selling point.

In Fengcheng City in east China's Jiangxi Province, rice farmers cooperate with meteorological experts to plan cultivation and sales of their crops.

Scanning a QR code on a package of rice can reveal much about the product's early life, such as the amount of rain, humidity, hours of sunlight and groundwater temperature it was exposed to, reassuring buyers of the rice's quality.

Lei Yingguo was one of the first farmers to access the data-sharing service from the local meteorological bureau, which installed monitoring equipment around rice paddies to collate real-time data.

Lei grows 1,200 hectares of rice in Leifang Village of Xiushi Township. "The climate accreditation service helps our rice sell. Other rice sells for 16 yuan per kilogram, but mine sells for twice the price," he said.

Lei gained success by closely following weather conditions, though he learned the hard way.

In 2008, he contracted 120 hectares of land, but 11 days of consistent rain killed almost all of his harvest.

"Over 165,000 kilograms of rice grew mildew. I lost 110,000 yuan (17,000 U.S. dollars) to the harsh weather," he said.

Lei then subscribed to weather forecast texts sent to his phone every day to help him cope with the weather.

The fields he contracts are in hilly zones where rice needs two or three more weeks than regular types of rice.

"The longer vegetative period yields hardier crops and enriches the mineral content in the rice. The rice is irrigated with mountain water or groundwater, giving it a chewy quality favored by a lot of customers," he said.

A micro-climate monitoring device near the rice fields covers an area with a 10-km radius.

"These small monitoring stations give more localized weather forecasts and help farmers prepare for freeze or drought. They can use the weather conditions to improve crop quality," said Sun Fang, who helps collect data from the stations.

The meteorological department of Yichun City, which administers Fengcheng, has signed cooperation agreements with 690 farmers in the city.

Due to his years of experience, Lei can tell how much more time a grain of rice needs to ripen just by chewing it.

"Modern farmers cannot rely solely on experience. I need to combine my experience with the data. The data help me sell rice," he said.