Modern farming perks up China’s booming coffee industry

World Today

There’s a growing coffee culture  in China, especially in big cities. China has had its own coffee-farming industry for more than a century, with its origins in Yunnan Province.

CGTN’s Jeff Moody’s focuses on rural reforms, and the transition from traditional to modern farming.

Hogood Coffee is in Yunnan Province in southwest China, near the border with Myanmar. The business has a turnover of a billion yuan a year. It grows nearly 200,000 tons of coffee beans, and produces coffee and coffee products that are exported all round the world.

Hogood is a success story that goes far beyond a cup of coffee. It cuts to the heart of what modern China is all about. Dehong Hogood Coffee Company is one of the leading lights in the national agriculture industrialization program.

Instead of farmers growing coffee beans and then selling them themselves, the farmers actually work for the corporations, leasing their land to the company, and supplying labor, in exchange for a raft of subsidies, benefits and security. This is all helped along with a guiding hand from local government.

It’s a classic piece of old-fashioned communism, with a modern twist. Traditionally, farmers carry the risks and the costs of their venture. They buy their machinery, their seed, their manpower. They also take the hit if the crop fails, or if they can’t sell their products. Now big businesses, coupled with the government, are taking the risk and cost away.

Local government is the middle men, ensuring the method runs smoothly and provides a helping hand when it’s needed.

There are several of these modern farming schemes to choose from. Some center on large-scale and intensive farming. Others concentrate on creating farmers’ cooperatives. Local government helps match farmstead to corporation, and ensures each party picks the right scheme. They also look after the minutiae of the terms and conditions, making sure all parties get their fair dues.

The figures certainly stack up. The farmers receive nearly $170 for every acre of coffee. If they upgrade more than an acre of old low yield coffee farm, they receive $180 for every acre, plus a bonus of $18 per acre.

Yunnan Province alone has 14,000 acres of coffee farms, with more than 10,000 actively producing coffee. That’s 18,000 farming households, or 75,000 people are working in the coffee industry.

It’s what China likes to call a “win-win situation”. The national agriculture industrialization program is how the country tries to modernize its agriculture and carry agricultural reforms to a new level.