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On the back of its effective afforestation program, Youyu county is focusing on developing an ecological economy, with sea buckthorn, a hardy, fast-growing shrub, playing a major role.
Known as a "national key county in sea buckthorn development", Youyu has over 230 square kilometers of natural and artificial sea buckthorn habitat, and its factories can process up to 10,000 metric tons of berries a year.
Youyu, which sits at high altitude in the northwest of Shanxi province, has climatic conditions, including sufficient sunlight and big daily temperature variations, that make it an especially suitable place for growing sea buckthorns.
Those environmental factors have helped make the county China"s central distribution area for sea buckthorns, and its high-quality berries are particularly nutritious, said Cao Man, the director of the Youyu Sea Buckthorn Research Institute.
Youyu welcomed China"s first sea buckthorn research institute and the country"s first sea buckthorn processing factory, the Lyudu Sea Buckthorn Juice Factory, in 1984.
Youyu now has 12 sea buckthorn processing factories. Ren Lidong, general manager of Lantian Sea Buckthorn Development, said it had planted sea buckthorns and collected wild berries from local pickers.
"We planted 2 sq km of sea buckthorns last year, and over 2.67 sq km this year," Ren said. "But sea buckthorns mostly grow in the wild, for they are particularly prolific. They can grow wherever their seeds land. Their roots can also grow in the soil."
From September to November, when the sea buckthorn berries ripen, the company receives berries picked by residents, with more than 200 pickers making deliveries on an average day.
One local who has been providing sea buckthorn berries to the company, Chi Yonggui, mainly makes a living by growing crops and picking wild mushrooms, but sea buckthorns give him a source of additional income.
Every fall, Chi rides his tricycle to pick the berries and sells them to the factory. A tricycle full of sea buckthorns can sell for 1,000 to 2,000 yuan ($145 to $290), depending on the quality. Chi set a record this year, earning 80,000 yuan in just 28 days.
It is estimated that by picking and selling wild sea buckthorn berries, farmers in Youyu can boost their combined earnings by more than 30 million yuan a year.
The Youyu government invested 30 million yuan in the sea buckthorn industry last year, looking to use the plant to advance poverty alleviation efforts. Authorities brought in high-quality sea buckthorn species, built 3 sq km of standardized sea buckthorn fields. An integrated sea buckthorn value chain, from production and supply to sale, has been built in Youyu, with output - including juice, oil and healthcare products - valued at about 200 million yuan a year.
"We still have a long way to go in the path of turning the sea buckthorn into a characteristic industry," Cao said. "Making juice does not fully put the values of sea buckthorns to use. Now, we need to develop high-end sea buckthorn products."wristbands with a message 24 hour wristbands wristbands with a message wellies and wristbands livestrong bracelet