Stepping into a greenhouse of Yu Li in the Chanping district of Beijing, it is immediately apparent what is being grown there - the smell will convey the information that herein there are strawberries.
Yu's family started growing strawberries in 2005 and it has been a very successful venture for them. In fact the fruit has brought success and prosperity to Changping generally as it has taken off in the area. Yu says the growth of their business has been considerable:
"We built three greenhouses at first, now my family owns 20."
"Planting strawberries has brought wealth to my whole family," she said. "I earned 15,000 Yuan ($2,400) from each greenhouse last year."
Before turning to strawberries Yu was an accountant for a local hospital, where she earned 20,000 Yuan a year. However, though the returns are considerably greater for growing strawberries so is the amount of time and effort put into their cultivation.
"I have to be involved in every step, from buying seedlings, cultivating them, advertising, selling and so on," Yu added. "While as an accountant, I didn't need to worry much after 5 pm."
The local government have been behind the promotion of the strawberry industry.
"My family gained subsidies from the government to cover half of the cost of building the greenhouses. In 2005, a greenhouse cost 20,000 Yuan. Now it has risen to 60,000 Yuan but the subsidy is still half," Yu said. "So almost all my neighbours and friends have turned to growing strawberries."
Yu's neighbor Wang Yiyi said that she has no concern over selling her produce, "Visitors have to make a reservation in the picking seasons, which usually lasts from January to June, to guarantee getting their strawberries," she said. "Last weekend visitors picked 75 kilograms and I had to send some of my customers to my neighbours."
Wang's family bought their first mini van in 2009 after four years of growing strawberries.
Wang said that, initially at least, people in the region were dubious about the prospects of growing. However, now people have seen the potential of the industry there is a shortage of space available for its expansion - Since 2008 there have been over 100 greenhouses in the area.
There is potential for the industry to develop something of an agri-toursim focus. Zhang Ying, who, along with her sister, invested 2 million Yuan into their growing venture, said "I wish our enterprise could be more of a leisure center for visitors," Zhang said, "where they could enjoy much more than just the strawberries."
"The strawberry business has been helping to boost tourism in the area," Jin Shudong, chief of Changping district government said during the recent strawberry symposium that took place in the region - the first time it was held in Asia.
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