iChongqing Title

How People in Nanchuan District Turn Barren Mountains Green

By YAN DENG|Apr 20,2022

The Jinhua Village, located in the Nanchuan District of Chongqing, Southwest China, has grown green tea on about 200 hectares. But it was once an unmanageable wasteland plagued by wildfires.

In recent years, the abandoned tea plantation has been transformed into an ecological garden by integrating tea plantations and rural tourism.

White tea plantation in Jinhua Village of Xinglong Town, Nanchuan District. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

Revitalize abandoned tea plantation

One year ago, Song Zhengmin, a tea merchant from Anji County in the eastern province of Zhejiang, came all the way to conduct research for a project. He dug up a bag of soil from Jinhua Village and then planted white tea trees, which grew well and produced tea that was even better than the local one.

He returned to Nanchuan District with funds and a project one year later. He transferred about 33.3 hectares of barren hills in Jinhua Village this time. He established Juchang Agricultural Development Co., Ltd. All year-round, it drives more than 60 local villagers to work and increases their annual income by more than 10,000 yuan. To encourage them to grow white tea, the company provides complimentary tea, fertilizers, and technology to farmers.

In addition to Anji white tea, Nanchuan has grown more than 3,000 hectares of Bayu Tezao, a new tea cultivar, and other varieties.  "By vigorously supporting and cultivating leading tea enterprises and other new business entities, the combined area of the tea bases across the district has reached 8366.7 hectares", said Li Jiuyan, Deputy Chief Specialist of Nanchuan District Characteristic Agricultural Industry Development Center.

Villagers become guardians of old tea trees

Jinfo Mountain is a national 5A-level tourist attraction, but few tourists set foot on the mountain's south side. There are more than 19,700 wild old Dashucha trees in the primeval forest.

In 2012, "Nanchuan Dashucha" was registered as a geographical indication of agricultural products. Protecting and developing Dashucha are important tasks for the Nanchuan people.

Wu Ke, the inheritor of the traditional craftsmanship of the millennium Jinfo Mountain black tea, is making a cup of Dashucha. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

There are no hardened roads or even irrigation systems in the tea plantations. In order to protect the lucid waters and lush mountains, the local government has implemented the strictest measures for ecological protection, and even the processing plants are transformed from abandoned grain distribution stations and tobacco leaf factories.

In recent years, many villagers have been taking care of old tea trees in Delong Town, where most of the wild Dashucha is produced.

Together with tea processing enterprises, the local government has surveyed and numbered the old trees around the villagers' houses. They hired nearby guardians and coordinated lectures in the field by agricultural experts.

Next to the old house of the villager Zhu Wenbing stands a 1,000-year-old tea tree ancestor. The family has been guarding the old tree for generations. Now, Zhu Wenbing has naturally become its custodian.

The number of villagers guarding old trees is growing — 89 households like Zhu Wenbing have become guardians of ancient tea trees and enjoy subsidies.

Zhu Wenbing and the 1,000-year-old tea tree he cares for. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

The agriculture-tourism boosts locals' income

In Nanchuan, the forest coverage rate of the whole district is 56 percent, and 342 days in a year have good and excellent air quality. The district boasts unique healthcare conditions.

Integrating tea culture with health care and agricultural tourism is a characteristic green development path. Tourists can go to the mountain to experience tea culture and taste all kinds of tea when coming back. Moreover, tourists can also try picking and making tea. When getting tired, they can learn some knowledge about tea and tea tasting while having some rest. More than 10,000 primary and high school students have their class field trip to Xianglusi Tea Garden every year, experiencing how to pick, fix, roll, fire, and make tea like a tea grower.

Nanchuan District has built ten experience-themed tea gardens featuring leisure and sightseeing integrating tea picking, tea processing, tea making performance, and buying tea while traveling.

Xianglusi Tea Garden is brimming with tea cultural elements. (Photo provided to iChongqing)

The local is advancing the construction of the Jinfo Mountain Dashucha Experience Park and the Tea Culture Museum of Chongqing Great Wall Tea Company to boost the tea industry.

In 2021, tea output totaled 4,475 tons, the output value of dry tea reached 410 million yuan (64.3 million U.S. dollars), and the comprehensive benefits of the tea industry aggregated 920 million yuan in Nanchuan District.


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