In just over three years, "Tongnanhong" crayfish piloted the practice of raising crayfish in paddy fields, promoted scale development, and then realized integrated development of agriculture and tourism. So far, the crayfish raising area has been increased to about 33.3 km2, with an annual output of more than 8,000 tons and annual sales revenue of RMB 500 million, opening up a new path for farmers to get rid of poverty.
On April 26, 2020, the first Chongqing · Tongnan Ecology Crayfish Festival kicked off in Tianyin Village, Tangba Town, Tongnan District. For this event, Tongnan District organized 50 poverty-stricken villages to market online and offline special agricultural and sideline products, including crayfish, marking that Tongnan crayfish starts to play a role in consumption-driven poverty alleviation through the integrated development of agriculture and tourism.
In 2006, Mr. Dai in Tongnan's Shouqiao Town, contracted around 67,000 m2 of paddy fields to raise crayfish. Since then, he became a famous crayfish raiser in the town, and earned the nickname of "Crayfish Dai". However, due to the lack of raising technology and poor operation and management, the output and the profit were very low for years, so Crayfish Dai was forced to find another livelihood. In a couple of years that followed, more farmers went into this business but on a shoestring and in a separate way, so it was very difficult to realize scale development.
Fortunately, the technology of raising crayfish in paddy fields paved the way out of the dilemma. In 2016, three college graduates went back to hometown and launched a start-up called Chongqing Daomeng Kongjian Agricultural Development Co., Ltd., and introduced the new idea and method of raising crayfish in paddy fields. Under the farming practice, paddy fields can be used to raise both rice and crayfish. This advantage, coupled with a lower cost and a higher profit, got it accepted and promoted by local farmers quickly.
Teng Wenqiang did the math — Under the method of raising crayfish in paddy fields, the rice and crayfish output per mu (1 mu=666.7 m2) can reach more than 400 kilograms and 150 kilograms respectively, and the revenue per mu can hit RMB 10,000 to RMB 20,000. Notably, the crayfish raised under the method can be sold at RMB 100-120 per kilogram, way higher than crayfish sourced from other places, and the price of the rice was also higher, reaching RMB 25.6 per kilogram.
Although in high demand for years, Tongnan crayfish still need to expand the sales market and enhance brand power, so it still has quite a long way to go to establish itself as a national brand.
"But we have confidence. We believe we can develop Tongnanhong crayfish into Tongnan District's next industry valued at over RMB 10 billion as we do with Tongnan lemon." Over the past years, to develop crayfish industry, Tongnan District has poured more than RMB 20 million into infrastructure construction like a rural highway, canal and crayfish net, included crayfish into the coverage of fishing insurance, and set up a technical team of experts to offer technical guidance on raising crayfish to 22 towns and subdistricts, said a superintendent from the district.
Moreover, Tongnan District has introduced an award and subsidy policy this year to grant a subsidy of RMB 100 per mu to those newly built comprehensive rice and crayfish raising bases. In the meanwhile, the crayfish festival will be held every year to enhance brand awareness and influence and develop a complete and sound industry chain through the integrated development of agriculture and tourism. By doing so, Tongnan District strives to expand the crayfish raising area to 100,000 mu, and more than 150,000 mu by 2025 with annual revenue of more than RMB 2 billion.
The success of the first crayfish festival has made farmers in Tangba Town very excited. Following the event, many tourists came to the crayfish base to catch and eat crayfish and also to the surrounding mulberry base to pick up mulberry, giving a boost to the local homestay and catering industry.
"I do believe as long as we work hard, we will realize our goal of the rural revitalization of 'raising crayfish in the pond and growing lemon flowers on the dam' very soon, and develop crayfish into Tongnan's second industry valued at more than RMB 10 billion after lemon," said the superintendent.
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