An Assistant professor of horticulture at Zhejiang University, Ye Ming’er has been promoting fruit tree technology for 35 years. His innovative approach has boosted citrus and Yang Mei fruit growth and yield, producing high-quality fruits and increasing farmers’ income in Zhejiang Province, East China.
In 2015, Ye Ming’er established an enclosed demonstration centre in Liannan Village, Huzhou City with 200 citrus trees that he bought at his own expense. Thanks to his guidance, the cultivated area already covered 3000 hectares in Zhejiang Province by the end of 2020. Huzhou City is currently the largest protected citrus cultivation area in China. Spanning over 600 hectares, its output value of over 1 billion yuan (about USD 150 million) has dramatically increased farmers’ income.
Protected cultivation reduces the use of pesticides by shielding crops from pests and disease. It also limits weed growth, which in turn improves root nutrient uptake, meaning the trees need less water. Ye Ming’er has effectively combined traditional cultivation of Huangyan Miju - a famous local variety of citrus - with resource-friendly and innovative techniques. He employs intelligent temperature control and water saving-irrigation to reduces oil salinity, a side effect of greenhouse cultivation. This protects both the soil and fruits, as well as the farmers’ livelihoods that depend on them.
Ye Ming’er has had similar success with Yang Mei (Myrica rubra Sieb. et Zucc.), which have grown in China for over 2000 years. His new efficient cultivation techniques for the Dongkui variety bred by Zhejiang University have produced trees that bear fruit earlier, with superior quality and higher yields.
Dongkui is now the most popular variety of Myrica rubra used in China, representing roughly 60% of the Bayberry tree varieties grown over about 400 000 hectares. It has spread rapidly to underdeveloped mountainous areas becoming a symbol of wealth for farmers in both Eastern and Western China. In 2006, for example, income per capita for farmers in Kantou Village, Zhejiang Province was estimated at 8118 yuan (approximately USD 1 255), 74% of which came from Dongkui cultivation.
As a food hero, Ye Ming’er demonstrates how innovative and adaptable cultivation techniques can improve crop growth and yields, protect natural resources, and improve farmers’ livelihoods.