KUNMING, June 21 (Xinhua) -- After retiring in 2016, Lu Chuanjun has changed his focus from the air to the ground.
Lu was an aircraft mechanical engineer in Taiwan in charge of airplane maintenance. Since 2007, he has been devoted to his 133.3-hectare rose planting base in a mountain region in southwest China's Yunnan Province.
"It all started by accident," said the 82-year-old businessman.
In 2006, Lu and his wife traveled to Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan where they heard that Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan, is home to one of Asia's largest flower auction centers.
With low latitude and high elevation, Yunnan has one of the mildest climates in China, which has allowed the cultivation of a booming floral market, according to Lu.
"Why not invest in flowers?" Lu said.
Facing too many varieties of flowers, Lu decided to choose the distinctive Damask Rose, and after taking factors such as altitude, climate, and soil into consideration, he set up the planting base at Yangping Village, in the city of Yuxi.
Yangping was once a mining area where villagers relied on planting corn but got bad harvests. When Lu talked to the local authorities about his rose plan, Yangping gave Lu's company a butch of preferential policies, helping the retired engineer rent 133.3 hectares of land, twice as much as he expected.
New to this field, Lu didn't know much about roses at first. "Planting requires hard work and refined management. I consulted experts whenever I met difficulties."
Lu and his wife even went to north China's Hebei Province, more than 2,300 km away from Yunnan, to learn about rose planting.
After over 10 years of efforts, Lu is now an expert in growing the Damask Rose. "As the beauty is only in full bloom in April and May, we usually do weeding and clipping and other work after May, and the fertilizing period usually starts from October."
In 2015, Lu's rose products entered the Taiwan market, and he also established cooperative relationships with some research teams in Taiwan.
Now, his company can handle about 600 tonnes of flowers every year. The Taiwan businessman is also actively promoting products such as Damascus rose essential oil, rose hydrosol and rose tea on both sides of the Strait.
To keep up with the growth of his business, Lu said he planned to expand the planting base to more than 666.67 hectares and upgrade his company to a comprehensive enterprise covering plantation, processing, sales and tourism.
So far, Lu's rose planting base provides jobs to about 100 villagers, and in busy seasons, the number will increase to about 150. "We give opportunities to anyone capable of the job."
"Starting from scratch at the age of 70, I'm glad that we made it," said Lu's wife.