Sweet taste of Suihua corn winning fans
In just seconds, Li Mengdi purchased a crate of fresh maize online from his hometown in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province.
The order, made at his workplace in the city of Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province, some 2,000 kilometers away, was not born from a longing for home, but for the luscious taste of the specific variety of corn in the city of Suihua.
Corn, a traditional staple in China, now comes in new varieties with higher sweetness and water content and stronger aromas.
Traditionally, maize farmers in Heilongjiang mainly sold peeled kernels as feed and industrial materials to dealers. The corn they grew was edible, despite being unattractive on the plate.
Now local peasants have turned to new crispy, juicy and sweeter corn varieties dubbed “fresh maize” to make their fortune.
“Our maize is now sold by ears and brought us a total profit of over 20 million yuan (US$2.8 million) last year,” said Yin Decai, deputy general manager of a local corn company.
“We have produced 70 million sheaves of maize this year and the output is expected to reach 100 million next year.”
Suihua fresh corn has become a famous brand in recent years, thanks to an upsurge of fresh maize plantations and greater quality control in recent years.
In 2019, the planting scale of fresh corn in Qinggang County alone has reached 8,867 hectares, with an annual processing capacity of 250 million sheaves and an output value of 420 million yuan.
“Our corn is mainly sold to big cities. For example, we hold a large share in Hangzhou,” said Li Weisheng, deputy head of Qinggang County.
“It has also helped locals shake off poverty and increased their income.”
Sun Huanwen, party secretary of Shangjia Village in the city of Zhaodong, said the village set up a cooperative to plant fresh corn in 2017, with the price of an ear at 1.5 yuan.
“The profit per hectare is between 18,000 and 22,500 yuan, quadrupling that of ordinary corn,” he said. In 2018, the cooperative grew 400 hectares of fresh corn, stored 11 million ears in cold storage and made a net profit of 3 million yuan.
“Our corn was snapped up even before it was produced,” said a worker at the Yuanye food company in the city of Hailun.
The company transferred 1,200 hectares of land to plant selenium-rich fresh corn, through which 2,522 poor households benefited, each earning an additional 2,000 yuan a year.
Zhaodong and Hailun are both under the jurisdiction of the city of Suihua.
To promote Suihua fresh maize, a festival was held this autumn in Qinggang County.