Rugao looks to expand its agricultural industry
Rice is harvested in Rugao, East China's Jiangsu province, on Nov 2. [Photo/VCG]
Rugao, widely known as China's "Longevity City", has been using its fame to promote local agricultural development in recent years.
The county-level city in Nantong, East China's Jiangsu province, attributes its long average lifespan to the area's natural environment and the locals' healthy eating habits. The city is now hoping to expand the reach of its agricultural products.
To this end, the local government has been working to promote the city's agricultural brands, scale up production, and expand into new markets.
"It surprised me to find that the Rugao Radish was on the menu for my midnight snack," said Xu Lingling, a Rugao native currently living in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.
Last November, a family farm in Rugao agreed to begin selling its Rugao Radish products to Zuotingyouyuan, a hotpot restaurant chain, and a Nantong-based agricultural products firm in a bid to bring the vegetable to dining tables nationwide.
In addition to the radish, Heitacai (a unique type of Chinese cabbage) and taro, both of which are grown in Rugao, have been recognized as "national geographical indications".
To expand the market for its produce, the local government has been holding a variety of promotional events in Shanghai every year and has set up a number of outlets for "longevity"-branded agricultural products in the city.
A variety of online platforms for agricultural trade and services have also been established, facilitating the sale of local specialties to dozens of countries and regions, including Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong.
As demand grows, the local agricultural industry is continuing to scale up production and improve quality.
The city is currently home to 46,690 hectares of paddy fields producing 450,000 tons of rice every year. It also boasts a number of fruit and vegetable production centers covering a total area of 16,675 hectares and producing over one million tons of products annually.