Good soil is a boon for rhizome plants in Chongming
For the highest quality produce, from restaurants to kitchen tables, green, organic, and fresh are the standard.
The concept of "green" guarantees a certain quality of agricultural product, while flavor adds to the market value. In this regard, Chongming produce has a clear advantage as high-quality soil leads to high-quality crops.
Chongming's soil contains much less cadmium, mercury, arsenic, lead, chromium, copper, nickel and zinc. It's in line with the standard of the Ministry of Agriculture, with over 70 percent of Chongming's farmland using high-quality or above average soil.
Chongming is also the largest estuarine alluvial island in the world, with the land saturated with sediment carried by the Yangtze River. With less alkaline and sandy soil and rich in nutrients, the soil on Chongming Island provides fertile ground for the growth of rhizome plants such as yams, sweet potatoes and taros.
Chongming crispy taro has been cultivated for over 400 years and has already become a national well-known product.
In Luhu Village, half of the farmers grow crispy taro, a top-seller among downtown buyers. Gu Junjie, Party chief of the village, told Shanghai Daily that Chongming's crispy taro is highly recognizable both in appearance and taste.
"Someone tried to plant crispy taro in nearby Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, but the flavor was clearly different. That's because of our environment, land and planting methods, among other things," Gu said.
Dr Du Hongmei, a research fellow at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, has been paying close attention to Chongming crispy taro. Through various measurements, he found that the amylopectin content and other flavor substances in Chongming crispy taro is indeed higher than those from other plantation regions.
Besides crispy taro, white lentil, golden melon and rice are all Chongming's characteristic agricultural products.
In recent years, Chongming has accelerated the development of seed sources, thus promoting the commercialization, scale and industrialization of these agricultural products.
In addition to natural advantages, Chongming farmers are good at "cultivating soil."
The Shanghai Yingyu Fruit and Vegetable Professional Cooperative in Xinhe Town mainly grows honey pears.
The cooperative has insisted on using only organic fertilizers for many years. Shi Liping, head of the cooperative, said the use of chemical fertilizers would not guarantee the quality of the pears, and would also make the soil hard.
Shi's cooperative uses soybean as organic fertilizer, and prepares the land by growing grass. They then cut the grass with a mower and leave the clippings in rows. As the dead grass rot, it in turn nourishes the soil.
So far, Chongming has formulated stringent access standards for the inputs in agriculture to ensure the safety and sustainable use of farmland. It has established a green food chain mechanism and eliminated the circulation of unqualified agricultural material from the source.
It has also carried out agricultural pollution control, increased the adjustment of agricultural industrial structure, accelerated the resource utilization of agricultural production waste and orderly implemented soil remediation.