The saffron crocus planting industry has been transformed into a cash cow in Sandu township, Jiande city, East China's Zhejiang province, thanks to the local government's supportive policies backing the industry's development.
In recent years, Sandu township has accelerated the transfer of land use rights and introduced the saffron crocus flower-rice farming mode to encourage the planting of the flowers. It has also encouraged major growers to boost the mechanization of farming and improve the income per mu (667 square meters) of the flowers. Besides, the town has increased infrastructure investment and enhanced cooperation with research institutes and universities to improve the breeding of the flowers.
Today, the total planting area of saffron crocus flowers has hit 140 hectares. The annual yield of crimson saffron filaments, a kind of herbal medicine, has reached 2,900 kilograms, with an annual output value of 40 million yuan (about $6.29 million), said Fang Rui, Party secretary of the township.
The saffron crocus planting industry has offered job opportunities to over 2,000 residents in the township, expanding the income for each of these families by an average of more than 30,000 yuan.
Zhang Jianhong from Shengjiang village is one of the beneficiaries of the industry. Zhang took over his father's saffron crocus planting business in 2008, having worked in the big city beforehand.
Zhang was dealt a deficit of at least 700,000 yuan in the first year of operations due to encroaching insects and pests. Later on, with the help of agricultural experts from universities, including the Zhejiang University of Technology, he started to make profits from his planting business.
At present, the area of Zhang's saffron crocus planting base increased from about 2.67 hectares to 8 hectares.
This year, Zhang's planting base yielded more than 100 kilograms of dried saffron filaments, which were priced at over 30,000 yuan per kilogram.