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|Workers grade fresh ginger at Laiwu Dunsunrise Foods Co Ltd. [Photo China Daily] Black garlic developed by Laiwu Yuyuan Foods Co Ltd has been sold to European countries and Japan. [Photo China Daily]
The Romans paid premium prices for it when they imported it from China. Two thousand years later and the whole world has come to recognize the culinary and medicinal qualities of ginger Nike Air Max 95 Sale , still mostly sourced from the land of the Han.
Central to ginger production in China is Laiwu, a city of about 1.3 million people in East China's Shandong province. It also does a big line in garlic.
More than 240 companies involved in the ginger business are based there. Every year, buyers from around the country and the globe flock to the city for the plant and other agricultural products.
China is the world's leading exporter of raw ginger. Last year it exported 448,000 tons of the spicy root plant, 30.8 percent of which was produced in Laiwu.
In 1997, the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture named Laiwu the City of Ginger. It seems it always was.
"Even The Analects of Confucius records that Confucius (551-479 BC) ate ginger every day," says Tao Wurui Nike Air Max 90 Sale , the head of Laiwu's Agriculture Bureau. "Research material shows the ginger he ate was from the area around Laiwu."
The hometown of Confucius was near Qufu, also in Shandong province.
At present, the Laiwu area has around 10,000 hectares of land area dedicated to ginger production, involving 887 villages. Tao says the city's elevated environment, 994 meters above sea level, plays an important role in nurturing quality ginger.
"Laiwu has well-drained and sloping soils Nike Air Max 1 Sale , rich in organic materials," he says. "The nutritional elements of the local ginger, such as the fiber content, oils, vitamin E and selenium, are much higher than in those of the ginger planted in other places.
"The high position also provides good conditions for storing fresh ginger. Cellars as deep as 7 meters can keep it for as long as four years without rotting."
The city has 29 large cellars run by various companies and about 10,000 small cellars Nike Air Max Sale , which together can store 800,000 tons of ginger.
But the surrounding farmland given over for ginger cultivation is not as static, and can change because of market fluctuations, says Xie Tianmu, deputy director of Laiwu Agriculture Bureau.
"The price for fresh ginger in 2011 dropped as low as 0.8 yuan (13 US cents) a kilogram and the area for ginger cultivation was halved to 5,300 hectares in 2012," Xie says.
These days Air Max 95 Sale , however, Laiwu and its producers are more concerned about quality than quantity. They are developing self-managed farmland through renting land from farmers. This enables companies to increase output using new technology and improved quality control.
"Quality is the top priority of our ginger industry, because we can't afford to destroy the brand we have built," says Zheng Jinqi, vice-mayor of Laiwu.
Up to 6,000 hectares of land in Laiwu are now managed by the ginger companies.
"Improvements in farm management practices and pest and disease management significantly improve productivity and profitability of companies," says Xie of the bureau.
Wang Bo Air Max 90 Sale , deputy general manager with Laiwu Dunsunrise Foods Co Ltd, which has acquired 1,330 hectares of land for ginger cultivation, elaborates.
"On our land, we can control the whole process of ginger production, from planting to packaging. We know how to conduct crop rotation to help the soil to recover, how to choose seeds and how to control pests and diseases."
The strict quality control system has won companies global certificates Air Max 1 Sale , which are key to boosting business overseas, Xie says.
Six companies in the city have been awarded Good Agricultural Practices certification by the Euro-Retailer Produce Working Group. And 60 companies have passed Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point verification.
Companies have also received certification by the British Retail Consortium, IFS and the kosher food market.
Much of this success is because of Laiwu's ginger industry being underpinned by sound research and development work, Xie says.
The research includes field trials to increase production through improved planting techniques, nutrition and pest and disease control. It also focuses on genetic improvement, selection of superior cultivars and development of processed products.
Xie says yellow rot, which attacks the seed after planting Air Max Sale , is the most common disease the plant and its producers face. It can wipe out a third of a crop.
"Our technology ensures that less than 5 percent of the ginger planted in Laiwu is affected by yellow rot," Xie says.
Each year the local government organizes agricultural experts to train growers in planting skills, such as how to build suitable greenhouses, how to prevent yellow rot, what kind of fertilizers to use and when to irrigate.
"The skills I learnt not only ensure my ginger meets the pesticide residue standards but also increases my productivity," says Gao Yubo, 42 Nike Air Max 95 Sale Outlet , a farmer from Xiagu village.
Gao dedicates all his 4 mu (0.26 hectares) of farmland to ginger cultivation, which earned him 100,000 yuan last year.
Laiwu has 12 organizations focusing on research and development in the ginger industry. More than 50 companies have laboratories.
High-quality and disease-resistant seed is a serious concern. According to Liu Zhenwei, deputy director of Laiwu Agricultural Science and Technology School, 90 varieties of ginger seeds are studied. Over the past 10 years, five have been developed that are highly resistant to yellow rot.
Companies are also working with universities to develop processed ginger, which has a much higher rate of return compared with fresh ginger.
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