"Our butterhead lettuce will be sold to Hong Kong this year," said Liu Jun, general manager of the Kaiyuan Agricultural Co.Ltd in Xiaojin County of Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China's Sichuan Province, on January 22.
He said that his company's vegetable supply permit for Hong Kong and Macao has been issued. From now on, the company's main produce, butterhead lettuce, will have a new market.
"In 2019, there will be 3,000 tons of butterhead lettuce from Aba going to dinner tables in Hong Kong," said Liu Jun.
Liu Jun is from Dujiangyan of Chengdu City. Ever since he was 13 years old, he has been working for his relatives in vegetable business. In 2015, he went to Songming County of Yunnan Province and met the local "Lettuce King." After learning that there's a big market demand for this type of produce, he decided to try growing butterhead lettuce in Ri'er Township of Xiaojin County.
After a year of growing the crop, Liu chose two types of butterhead lettuce out of the 18 types he introduced to Xiaojin County. The lettuce takes only 50 days from transplanting to harvesting, produces around 4,000 kilograms per mu (about 0.067 hectares), and harvests twice a year.
"The most important is that there's no pollution here, so the butterhead lettuce looks and tastes great and is very popular," said Liu Jun.
Currently, the company has planted 600 mu of (about 40 hectares) butterhead lettuce, and has orders with purchasing agents for fast food chains like KFC, McDonald's, Zhenkungfu, and Pizza Hut, etc.
Last November, Xiaojin County was selected by Sichuan Province's Department of Agriculture as the testing county for supplying vegetables to Hong Kong and Macau. Liu said that in 2019, they will try to plant 1,700 mu (about 113.3 hectares) of butterhead lettuce, and reach an output of more than 8,000 tons annually. They hope to expand the scope to planting 5,000 mu (about 333.3 hectares), and have an annual output of 30 thousand tons of butterhead lettuce by 2020.
Dongma Village in Ri'er Township also has plans for growing butterhead lettuce. Yang Jinhua, the Party Secretary of the village, said that in May of 2018, he led the village in planting 0.8 mu (0.053 hectares) of the lettuce and produced 4,000 kilograms in output. "After cost, we made 4,800 yuan (708.7 US dollars) as net earnings."
He plans to motivate the whole village in planting butterhead lettuce this year, to hopefully reduce poverty and raise income.