CHENGDU, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Drones are used in China to spray pesticide, to take aerial pictures and videos. They are also used to help ferry the palatable yet fragile matsutake from the mountains to the dinning tables of foodies.
Villagers in the Tibetan areas of southwestern China's Sichuan Province are using drones to help race against time to lock in the best flavor of matsutake, a local delicacy.
As one of the most precious fungi in the world, matsutake is known for its strong distinct aroma and rich nutrition, as well as its vulnerability and fleeting freshness.
However, in Yajiang County, dubbed the "home of matsutake in China," the lack of roads has hindered the transport of the matsutake out of the mountains.
"Local villagers have to get up at 3 o'clock in the morning to forage for these mushrooms that often grow on steep hills, and they won't be back until around 4 p.m. because merely coming down from the hills takes four to five hours," said Guo Xianyong with the matsutake industrial park in Yajiang.
Now, with the help of drones, newly picked matsutake can be sent out of the mountains more quickly.
"It only takes about 20 minutes to ferry down the fragile mushrooms with drones so the best flavor of the mushrooms can be preserved," said Guo.
A specially designed cold-chain packaging equipped with temperature and humidity monitors will take over the matsutake from the drones to help lock in the freshness before they reach customers.
Within 48 hours, the mushrooms will appear on the market in metropolises such as Beijing and Shanghai, over 2,000 km away.
A matsutake processing center has also been put into use in the industrial park last week to preprocess the mushrooms.
"As the transport time has been significantly shortened, foodies across the globe will be able to taste our matsutake in the near future," said Guo.