Li Zhifang

“Someone must be brave when the battle begins.”

China

Wuhan, China was the first major community to grapple with the impact of COVID-19. Many people there volunteered to help their fellow residents. Some delivered food and medicines directly to people confined to their homes. Others answered phones at the community hotline.

For Li Zhifang, marketing manager of a local producers’ cooperative, the main challenge was finding ways to keep food prices affordable and food supplies accessible.

Li is the marketing manager of Wuhan Qiangxin Vegetable Production and Marketing Cooperative. He worked hard to stabilize vegetable supply and prices in Wuhan during the lockdown. Vegetable prices rose dramatically at first.

Li Zhifang had to persuade farmers to sell vegetables at normal prices. He also helped to increase deliveries of produce from Cooperative members to supermarkets like Hema, Wushang, and Zhongbai. 

"Normally we supply 6000-8000 servings of vegetables to Hema every day, and at most 10,000 servings on weekends. After the lockdown of the city, up to 32,000 servings were delivered in one day,” Li said.

“When people heard this number, some of them thought that we were making a lot of money. But actually, we were doing it at a loss.”

Li also volunteered to help the government distribute vegetables to some communities in short supply of fresh food, including those near the Huanan Seafood Market where, due to its proximity to early COVID-19 outbreaks, many people were reluctant to take orders.

During the lockdown of the city, up to 1300 packages of vegetables were delivered by he and his team everyday, each weighing about 8 kilos and each car load weighing nearly 5 tonnes.

After delivering the vegetables, he and his colleagues had to disinfect themselves before returning home. One night, his daughter, worried about his safety, begged him to stop working.

This food hero told his daugher, "Have you watched the movies about war? Someone must be brave when the battle begins. If you don’t do it, and I don’t do it, who else would do it?"

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