China: Greenhouse growers gear up to meet demand

Each year, around 8 million tonnes of vegetables are traded in Shouguang. The city, with more than 40,000 hectares of greenhouses, provides one-third of the vegetables for Beijing.

Growing vegetables in the freezing northern winter has always been a challenge for local farmers.

In the past, they burned coal to raise the temperature for plants to grow, and each season consumed around five tonnes of coal. It was not until the 1980s that local farmers started building greenhouses, making use of sunlight to get the best temperatures.

"Now the greenhouses have evolved for five or six generations," said Xu Meirong, researcher with local agricultural bureau. "Many have been equipped with automatic curtain rolling machines and automatic spray; farmers can control them remotely on their phones."

China has seen growing consumer demand for green and organic vegetables, and more producers have turned their focus to quality over quantity, according to a 2016 survey by market analyst Zhiyan.

More recently, traditional domestic e-commerce heavyweights such as Alibaba and JD have set up more offline stores offering select fresh products, all well received among young consumers.

In Shouguang, producers are adjusting to the change.

Read more at Xinhua


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