Outlet offers produce from assisted regions

Wu Huixin
In an attempt to build an offline platform for produce from pairing assistance provinces and cities, Shangcheng District opened a pairing assistance store this month.
Wu Huixin
Outlet offers produce from assisted regions
Ti Gong

With milk tea on the left counter and kebabs on the right, Hangzhou's first pairing assistance store offers a diverse array of innovative products.

In an attempt to build an offline platform showcasing produce from Hangzhou's pairing assistance provinces and cities, a pairing assistance store opened at Zhongshan Road in Shangcheng District this month, the first of its kind in Hangzhou.

A variety of produce is available at the store, including beef, honey, milk, fungus and meat from the Xizang Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, and Sichuan and Hubei provinces.

Since the 1990s, the Chinese government's "pairing assistance" program has aided impoverished regions. Hangzhou has supported the development of 11 cities and 47 counties in eight provinces, focusing on enhancing their economies, education and healthcare.

Agriculture has always been a mainstay of the pairing assistance efforts. Sales channels have been created in supermarkets to provide local residents with more organic products from the assisted regions.

The pairing assistance store in Hangzhou is a new physical outlet that sells a comprehensive selection of agricultural products. Spanning two floors, the store also features a restaurant where patrons can indulge in delicacies such as yak meat hotpot and authentic Xinjiang cuisine.

Its primary objective is to pioneer a model that combines the act of shopping with charitable giving, with the ultimate goal of "targeted poverty alleviation."

For years, Hangzhou has assisted Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture in central China's Hubei Province. By 2020, the poverty-stricken population there had been reduced from 525,000 to 7,971. Hangzhou had also completed 291 projects in Enshi by 2019, helping some 150,000 people. Signature products from Enshi include organic oil and rice.

Starting 2021, Hangzhou has forged business partnerships with Guangyuan City in Sichuan Province. Under the "Zhejiang Market plus Sichuan Produce" mode, Hangzhou has brought progressive concepts to farms in Guangyuan by raising chicken and growing matsutake mushroom – a fungus highly coveted for its distinct spicy-aromatic flavor.

Recently, the pairing assistance program have yielded many unique offerings for sale at the store.

Significant efforts have been made to explore and utilize the agricultural resources available in Sichuan's Garze area. The Tibetan region is home to yaks, known for their low fat, high-protein meat and thin hides. And the highland barley beer and milk tea matches well with the yak meat hotpot.

Catering to more consumers, the producer lowers the alcohol content by adding more milk, which tastes aromatic with refreshing flavors.

Besides grazing yaks, beekeeping has been a tradition in the area for over 480 years. Garze honey has been taken as a nutrient in Tibetan medicine to nourish the body and replenish energy. However, commercialization of the honey was difficult.

Now, the Garze government has partnered with a Hangzhou company, which has led to the innovative transformation of local honey into a line of beverages.

This collaboration has expanded the honey's appeal and customer reach well beyond Hangzhou. Within a single year, the newly developed honey beverages have managed to sell out 1 million bottles.

Shanghai Daily also recommends trying the Xinjiang mutton kebabs and naan bread at the store. Mutton from Xinjiang has long been a favorite in local markets. Sizzling mutton is the signature dish, with the fragrance of the herb softening the strong flavor of the meat, creating a peppery but delicate taste.

Naan is the staple of Xinjiang with a recorded history of over 2,000 years. It is baked in an oven with sesame seeds sprinkled on top and has a rich aroma.

The first official from Hangzhou was dispatched to Xinjiang in the 1990s to assist with development. Since then, a steady stream of officials, educators and medical professionals have continued to lend their expertise to the frontier region in northwestern China.

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