Delicious local delicacy drives rural revitalization in east China

Xinhua, July 05, 2023
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This photo taken on May 31, 2023 shows the ducks raised by Xie Shuzhong in Lianhua County, east China's Jiangxi Province. (Xinhua/Liu Yang)

 Xie Shuzhong's poultry farm offers some delightful sights. Every time he pours duck feed into a plastic feeder, his ducks would swim out of the rivulet and flock together for a satisfying meal.

At 55 years old, Xie is a diligent duck farmer, raising over 20,000 Lianhua shelducks, a local duck species, annually. "I used to worry about selling them out, but now my only concern is that my breeding scale cannot meet the growing market demand," said Xie, who hails from Huangtian Village in Lianhua County in east China's Jiangxi Province.

Xie's sweet burden came from the burgeoning local "Lianhua blood duck" cuisine industry, as his ducks serve as the primary ingredients for this traditional delicacy.

"Lianhua blood duck" is renowned for its spicy taste and tender texture of the meat, and its culinary skills were recognized as a provincial intangible cultural heritage in Jiangxi in 2009.

According to Li Guohua, 57, an inheritor of the cultural heritage, the cuisine was first a common dish on the dining tables of local households, and then grew into a novel ready-made delicacy in supermarkets and online stores thanks to improved cold-chain logistics.

With the establishment of standardized production and complete industrial chains, "Lianhua blood duck" has now gained popularity among consumers across China.

Jiangxi Lianhua Blood Duck Food Co., Ltd. is also harnessing the delectable potential of the delicious duck recipe by developing various derivative products, including rice noodles and self-heating rice dishes topped with the exquisite flavors of "Lianhua blood duck."

"When I was a child, my parents needed at least half an hour to make a plate of 'Lianhua blood duck,'" said Yan Pengbao, chairman of the company, "but now our automatic production line can produce 3,000 packages of the dish in merely an hour."

The intangible cultural heritage has brought about tangible boons to the local farmers.

Yan said his company collaborates with three agricultural cooperatives in Lianhua County, and more than 500 farmers supply ducks to him. "Over 6,000 ducks are consumed every day," he added.

"With an upward demand, the duck price has also more than doubled from around 15 yuan (about 2 U.S. dollars) per kg initially," Xie said.

Currently, the county provides more than 1 million ducks every year, with the annual net income of the local farmers exceeding 20,000 yuan on average.

Another player in the duck dish industry, Lotus Development Group Co., Ltd. has also actively promoted the local delicacy through colorful exchanges and activities.

On June 15, a high-speed train adorned with signature elements of "Lianhua blood duck" departed from Nanchang, the provincial capital. This is part of the company's efforts to boost sales, said Liu Jingwei, general manager of Lotus Development Group Co., Ltd.

To ensure authentic taste, the local Lianhua blood duck association hosts cookery courses and culinary skill competitions annually.

"At least 50 chefs come here to learn from me every year. After finishing their apprenticeship, most of them will start their own restaurants featuring 'Lianhua blood duck' across China," Li Guohua said.