Across China: Chinese couple’s flower industry blooms in Guizhou mountains

Xinhua News Agency | Mar 27, 2020 at 5:06 AM

GUIYANG, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Although the warm spring is not the harvest season of Rosa Chinensis, known commonly as the Chinese rose, Haohuahong Township, located in southwest China's Guizhou Province, is now filled with blooms and fragrance.

Haohuahong was a small and undeveloped town in the mountainous area of Bouyei-Miao Autonomous Prefecture of Qiannan. That was until the unremitting efforts of a couple over the past few years changed the fate of the town.

Zhou Hongying and Jin Ping are researchers from the Guizhou Botanical Garden of the provincial academy of sciences. They have been dubbed as "the rose couple" by local residents.

Having started work in the botanical garden in 1988, Zhou and her team had carried out decades of research on rose species which can adapt to the unique climate, the high humidity and limited sunshine in Guizhou.

Many research programs were located in Haohuahong Township, however, the development of the flower industry was slow due to a lack of systematic technical support.

In 2016, Zhou and Jin were invited to the town with their advanced planting technique. But things were not as simple as they expected.

Zhou found that Haohuahong has fertile land, but the Chinese rose cannot endure the excessive water in the soil. But she didn't want to give up.

"My husband kept encouraging me, and we decided to try it out," said Zhou, who later overcame many challenges with her team in the following years and managed to grow over 20 hectares of roses in a flower industry demonstration park from 2016, which has now become the largest rose park in the province that integrates flower viewing, leisure and entertainment.

Meanwhile, Zhou also shared their experience and achievement with other places across the province, to promote the development of the provincial flower industry.

The town now has over 333 hectares of flower and plant cultivation areas and the flower growing industry has become its pillar industry.

"It is a labor-intensive industry, which needs about 30,000 to 40,000 workers per year," said Luo Jixiang, head of the town, adding that before the couple came, the planting scale of flowers and plants was only 66 hectares.

In 2018, Haohuahong Township held the first Chinese rose exhibition, which attracted more than 10,000 tourists and generated tourism revenue of 50 million yuan (about 7.1 million U.S. dollars) within days, according to Luo.

Since tourism in the countryside has become more and more popular, the couple and local residents are busy preparing for the province's first rose festival, which is scheduled to open in Huishui County, which administers Haohuahong Township.

Aside from fresh flowers, Zhou has worked with enterprises to develop rose-related products such as wine and enzymes, and also joined hands with the local government to introduce more technologies and draw rural residents into the industry.

"Many migrant workers in the town turned into professional flower growers. They master growing skills which help them earn stable incomes and eventually shake off poverty," Zhou said.

In the eyes of Zhou, planting roses is a beautiful industry, which can inject new vitality into impoverished mountainous areas in Guizhou.

Statistics showed that more than 50,000 rural residents, including over 7,000 poor people, are engaged in the industry across the province.