Small hot peppers forge a thriving industry
Published: Nov 01, 2023 05:48 PM
Wucheng County, Dezhou City, Shandong Province in northern China, stands as one of the significant regions for hot pepper production. With an annual planting area exceeding 100,000 mu and peaking at 300,000 mu, it generates a trading volume of approximately 3 billion yuan each year. Thus, Wucheng was named the "Hometown of Hot Pepper in China" and the "First City of Hot Pepper in China".

The cultivation of hot peppers has contributed to local farmers' income and prosperity, but the traditional pattern of one harvest season a year has its drawbacks like a long cycle and limited production capacity. Thanks to the continuous advancement in electrified "smart agriculture", the traditional hot pepper cultivation in Wucheng has embraced a diversified approach, encompassing electrified solar greenhouses, greenhouse cultivation, and intercropping. This transition has resulted in nearly doubling the income of hot pepper farmers.

"It used to take eight months for hot peppers to go from planting to harvest. But now, with electrified solar greenhouses, we can regulate the sunlight, temperature, and humidity through electrical control. This innovation has boosted the yield and quality of our hot peppers and slashed the planting cycle by three months. Now I am able to yield two annual harvests of premium-quality hot peppers from my solar greenhouse," said Dong Qingzhu, a hot pepper farmer from Shangzhuang Village, Wucheng County.

With the support of the State Grid Dezhou Power Supply Company, Dong has constructed five electrified hot pepper cultivation solar greenhouses, thereby achievingc two annual harvests. Each solar greenhouse can yield about 7,500 kilograms of premium-quality hot peppers per harvest. Considering the current market price of 2.5 yuan per kilogram, the annual output value of the five greenhouses can reach 187,500 yuan.

Li Zhen, Marketing Director of the State Grid Wucheng County Power Supply Company, said: "Alongside the electrified seedling greenhouses and solar greenhouses, there is also advanced water-fertilizer integration equipment, driving up the demand for a reliable power supply. Thus, we have renovated 36 transformers and installed 13 pieces of equipment that ensure power supply to all electric pump-sets. This electrification can promote the smart cultivation of hot peppers."

In addition to a diversified cultivation, the hot pepper industry in Wucheng County has also gradually taken shape. A large number of hot pepper deep-processing companies have settled in Wucheng. Their products such as hot pepper sauce and dried hot pepper have found markets in various countries including South Korea and Japan. Synthite, based in India, the world's largest producer of spice oleoresin, invested 20 million dollars in a project for extracting paprika's red pigment. Wucheng's hot pepper industry has been transformed from traditional cultivation and raw material trading to a high-added-value business, creating more than 20,000 local jobs.

Fan Jianjun, Marketing Director of State Grid Dezhou Power Supply Company, said, "We have increased the capacity of the two substations that supply power to the hot pepper industrial park, and set up two special lines to secure the power supply in the industrial park. This investment aims to enable Wucheng's hot pepper industry to become more and more prosperous."