Ending extreme poverty has been a top priority for the Chinese government this year. One county in the country's south-central Hunan Province is using a common plant as their way of combating deep-rooted hardships. CGTN's Dai Kaiyi has more.
Once a poverty-stricken area, the mountainous Sangzhi County has gained a golden touch. Reed Leaves – an abundant plant long taken for granted – have been transformed to a money-generator. And a key catalyst to make it happen – intellectual property.
PENG LIKANG General Manager, Kanghua Reed Leaves Co. "We've benefited a lot from intellectual property, especially this year. The business momentum remains robust thanks to one of our factories earning trademark recognition."
Thanks to a high demand for reed leaves, especially from big-name catering brands like hot pot restaurant chain Haidilao and bakery Daoxiangcun - which Sangzhi county's factories supply. They provide leaves to more than 25 provinces in China, and export to 16 overseas destinations, including the U.S., Canada, and Southeast Asia.
While raking profit by utilizing local resources, the company, together with the local reed leaves industry, have paid their fair share to poverty eradication. By hiring impoverished villagers to process, transport and manufacture products, their efforts have driven at least 12,000 people out of poverty.
According to Peng, the special "renowned trademark" recognition has been the game-changer, as it provides the company the ability to borrow business loans from local banks – even without collateral.
PENG LIKANG General Manager, Kanghua Reed Leaves Co. "Once successfully obtaining the trademark, this hard-earned recognition could be regarded as a collateral on itself, and based on that, we get to borrow as much as 5 million yuan as an upper limit for loans."
In 2019, Kanghua registered a sales volume of 150 million yuan. And Peng has expressed confidence that the annual output value could hit 5 billion in the next 3 to 5 years.
DAI KAIYI Sangzhi County, Hunan Province "More than just a wrapping material for the Chinese festive snacks, sticky rice dumplings, local authorities say these reed leaves have lots of other possible uses including in kitchen utensils, and that the potential market of this local specialty still remains largely untapped."