Chinese festival marks nation’s hard-won bumper harvest

 

Hundreds of millions of Chinese farmers celebrated the third harvest festival on Tuesday, as the country expects a bumper harvest despite the impacts of COVID-19 and severe floods.

The Chinese leadership has described the anticipated autumn harvest as “hard-won” after the country saw severe floods in the Yangtze River, disruptions by the epidemic, droughts in the north as well as typhoons.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs has said this year’s autumn grain production is generally guaranteed, citing better-than-expected pest control and quick recovery from the summer floods.

It estimated the area of autumn grain, which accounts for the bulk of the yearly grain production, to reach 85.6 million hectares this year, an increase of more than 333,333 hectares.

The optimism is palpable in China’s major breadbasket regions, where farmers marked the festival with songs and dances, product exhibitions, carnivals and ceremonies to award “best-performing farmers.”

In Yuncheng city of North China’s Shanxi province, the main venue of this year’s harvest festival celebration, farmers and business people from nine provincial-level regions of the Yellow River basin attended farming-themed activities and promote their products at exhibitions.

Shi Yaowu, president of Shanxi Qinzhouhuang Millet Group, said local millet farmers were expecting “probably the best harvest in a decade,” as the province was exempted from major natural disasters this year.

Gai Yongfeng, a farmer in Northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, won the title of “King of Soybeans in Heilongjiang,” in a ceremony in Fujin city.

The COVID-19 outbreak earlier this year had threatened to disrupt Gai’s plan to sell soybeans and corn, the money from which Gai relied on to buy seeds and fertilizer for a new round of farming.

“Fortunately, the government opened a ‘green channel’ for us to sell grain and an online platform to order agricultural materials, so our crop cultivation went on smoothly,” Gai said.

Known as China’s “grain barn,” the province of Heilongjiang boasts the country’s largest plantations of rice, corn and beans. Local officials said the harvest was almost certain despite three typhoons in recent months.

Gai said more advanced agricultural techniques and better-quality seeds helped local farms withstand natural disasters.

The provincial government said nearly 5 million pieces of agricultural machinery were employed this spring, together with the implementation of stricter farm management and higher standards.

Starting in 2018, the Chinese farmers’ harvest festival coincides with the autumnal equinox each year, which is one of the 24 solar terms of the Chinese lunar calendar and usually falls between Sept 22 and 24 during the country’s agricultural harvest season.

China’s total grain output consists of three parts — early rice, summer grain and autumn production. Autumn grain crops, which include corn and middle- and late-season rice, account for the bulk of the grain production.