Chinese farmers reap benefits from new chili production model
Cao Chufeng

The city of Liling in China's central Hunan Province is well known for producing a type of chili called "glass pepper," which earned its name because it looks transparent when it is sun-dried. 

Mingyue town is one of the main producers of glass pepper in Liling, but for a long time, its production system ran more like family workshops, with farmers growing and selling their own products. This meant the product quality and revenue couldn't be guaranteed across town, but things changed, when a joint cooperative system was set up in 2019.

"We signed land transfer contracts with farmers, as well as pepper growing contracts. Joint cooperatives lend farmers free farmland, give them free fertilizer and seeds," said He Weibing, head of Hunan Gaofengqiao glass pepper joint cooperatives. "We invite experts to give all farmers on-site technical training and guidance, and oversee the whole growing process," 

The local government says this model has improved product quality standards, and significantly increased output.

Farmers no longer need to work on their own, said Zou Zhengda, the Chinese Communist Party Secretary of Mingyue Town. "Because of the implementation of farming regulations, the output for each mu (around 667 square meters) increased from 400 Kilograms to 600 Kilograms." 

The joint cooperatives also collect all the peppers grown by farmers, and establishes unified sales channels, so that growers won't have to worry about finding customers anymore, and many residents working with joint cooperatives have seen a big increase in income.

"I started to work with the joint cooperatives about two years ago. Before that my income was only about enough to get food to feed my family, and I owned some debt. The first year I worked with the joint cooperatives, my annual income was about 80,000 yuan (around $12,000), and I paid back all my debt. This year, my income is expected to double to 160,000 yuan (around $24,000)," said Yin Xuesheng, a local glass pepper grower.

In total, the glass pepper industry has helped lift 702 people out of poverty in Mingyue Town. The local government says it continues to promote Liling glass peppers both online and offline, hoping to boost sales and recognition.

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