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College students help spread the flavors of Qinghai plateau by Jin Ling,June 24, 2019 Adjust font size:

Nestled in the northeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, more than half of Qinghai Province in western China is covered with usable grassland. Thanks to summer rainfall, about 40 varieties of edible mushrooms flourish on rotten wood every year, dotting slopes and corners with clusters of beauty. Among them, the most famous is called the yellow mushroom, which took its name from its color. With a splendid texture and flavor, it is listed as one of the ten specialties of Qinghai.

Yet dealing in yellow mushroom didn’t turn out to be a profitable business. Unlike many other varieties, this type of mushroom cannot be cultivated, and its harvesting lasts about 40 days each year. Moreover, it loses much of its taste and cannot be stored for a long time after being dehydrated.

Fan Xinxing, 46, founder of the Baishuyuan E-commerce Co, Ltd in Hainan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Qinghai, accordingly took a loss on selling the fungus online.Reluctant to give up the business, he had to seek a better solution.

Fan then met a student e-commerce team from Yangzhou Polytechnic Institute (YPI) at a e-commerce skills training course. Having heard of his difficulties,the students, after in-depth discussions, suggested making yellow mushroom sauce.

“It’s an excellent idea,” said Fan, adding that making the mushroom sauce maintains the original flavor of the fungus while keeping its nutrition.

Fan has already made his first batch of products, registered a trademark, and applied for a patent. When the student team visited Hainan prefecture again in the summer of 2018, he invited them to try his sauce.

Seeing their suggestion become reality, all the team members felt a sense of achievement. While enjoying the food, they put forward more ideas, for instance, improving the packaging to represent more of the distinctive Qinghai culture, changing the introduction to focus more on the nutritional value of the yellow mushroom, increasing the product variety to suit different taste preferences, and producing portable gift packs for tourists.

“These suggestions are fantastic,” said Fan while noting them down. “They are exactly what I need. These students did really learn a lot at school.”

YPI’s e-commerce team is made up of students and their teacher. They engage in field work every summer.

In the summer of 2018, they visited a series of agriculture and animal husbandry cooperatives in the prefecture, as well as logistics centers, to gain a general understanding of local industries. During the trip, they found that villagers in remote farming and grazing areas knew little or nothing about e-commerce.So they went door to door, teaching them how to buy and sell products online. To give the villagers a deeper understanding, the team drew a process map and translated descriptions on the map into Tibetan language. They also wrote a research report and submitted their findings and suggestions to the local government.

Native to the prefecture,Ren Qingdong was one of the five Tibetan members in the team of 2018. A year ago he went to Yangzhou to study e-commerce when he saw how local specialties suffered from limited sales channels.

Liu Jincun,YPI’s Party chief, acclaimed the team for their applying what they had learned to boost e-commerce development and help local people find new ways to improve their lives.

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