Tea, tourism key to county's drive to boost incomes
Qin Lifang picks tea leaves at a farm in Sanjiang, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. [Zhang Li/China Daily]
On a mountain in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, 25-year-old Qin Lifang was busy late last month picking the last batch of tea.
The college graduate chose to return to her hometown in Sanjiang Dong autonomous county because it now has plenty of job opportunities in its tea and tourism industries.
Sanjiang, in the city of Liuzhou, is a major black tea-producing area in Guangxi, and its early spring tea, which goes to market 20 days earlier than that from other areas, has been dubbed the best in China, the city's mayor, Zhang Zhuang, said during an annual tea industry conference in Sanjiang on Oct 27.
"Just like me, many young people have returned to our hometown because beautiful Sanjiang has more and more job opportunities," Qin said, adding that she could earn 100 to 200 yuan ($15 to $33) a day by working for five to six hours.
Sanjiang has become popular with tourists and Qin said increasing demand for its tea from health-conscious consumers had seen the price of Sanjiang tea rise to dozens of yuan per kilogram.
During the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) period, the planting area of tea in Sanjiang increased from 10,000 hectares to 13,000 hectares. The annual production value increased by 500 million yuan to 1.68 billion yuan, Sanjiang Party chief Kuang Qu said.
The annual output of dry tea in the county has reached 15,500 metric tons and 300,000 people work in the industry. With per capita income of 4,585 yuan from the tea industry, the sector has played a key role in increasing villagers' incomes and promoting rural vitalization.
Buyang village, where Qin was raised, is developing homestay tourism featuring tea. Early in 2015, Buyang started to explore a way to integrate the tea industry with tourism as the quality of tea and infrastructure in the village had been greatly improved.
A highland tea mountain in the village that became a 4A-level tourist attraction in 2018 has received 300,000 visitors.
The village is a pilot area for industrial agriculture, and a tourism company in Buyang has taken charge of management and purchases tea from farmers. After processing and selling the tea, the company returns 25 percent of its profits to farmers.
Shi Yanneng, deputy Party chief of the village, said about 140 farmers had signed contracts with the company.
"We plan to expand the cooperation to benefit 400 farmers on 66.7 hectares of land," Shi said, adding that tea produced in the village was sold to Guizhou and Zhejiang provinces, and some was even exported to the United States.
To attract more tourists, villagers volunteered to renovate vacant houses and have now developed dozens of homestays with 200 beds for guests.
"As the country keeps promoting rural vitalization and the rising tea industry, my hometown will attract more and more young people for flexible job opportunities, fresh air and the slower pace of life," Qin said.