Bountiful harvest, terrible market

A total of 750 kilograms of cabbage netted this farmer 170 yuan, hardly enough to buy a bag of fertilizer.

Farmers at the wholesale market where there are few buyers.  

For months, farmer Liu Anxiu applied tender care and hard labor to his cabbage patch of almost three acres. His years of experience and backbreaking efforts have given him the expertise to grow row upon row of perfectly uniform heads of a cabbage. 

Now, at harvest time, the market news is devastating. “I planted 2.8 acres of cabbage this year, but it’s selling for less than half of last year’s price. I probably won’t even earn back my input costs let alone a profit,” the 63-year-old complained. 

As truckloads of neatly stacked cabbages head for the nearby Sijia Vegetable Wholesale Market, the farmers learn the price they’ll get has dropped again. 

The problem, said officials, is the simple economics. This spring’s crop of cabbage is far greater than required by demand.

Last year, cabbage prices spiked on reported higher demand from international markets. This year many more acres of cabbage were planted with great anticipation of good returns but demand has slipped. 

In the town of Tangwang, on the outskirts of Jinan, Shandong Province, more than 20,000 acres have been planted to cabbage.

Farmers have to decide to sell at a loss or let their crop rot in the fields.

Kan Jinliang, 75, said he is sure to lose money on his eight-acre crop of cabbage.

The vast fields are a vital source of income for local growers who plant several crops of vegetables a year. 

For 75-year-old Kan Jinliang the causes of market fluctuations are beyond his understanding ,but he’s still faced with a difficult choice. Does he cut his costs and plough his crop under or take his produce to market and take what he can.

“This year I planted eight acres of cabbage and I’m sure to lose money,” he said. 

Another village elder, Han Zuoxiu, heaves wet and heavy heads of cabbage onto the waiting truck that is neatly arranged with tons of them. 

She’s decided that some return on her investment of intensive labor is better than none. She has little choice but to harvest now, otherwise her crop will rot in the field. 

While cabbage growers are suffering losses, city folk don’t seem to be reaping the benefit. In Beijing, this week’s wholesale price of cabbage was 0.70 yuan a kilogram, about three times more than what most farmers received for thier crop.

Global Times

Leave a Reply