With an annual output value of 250 million yuan ($37.3 million), Chishang town – administered by Zibo city in East China's Shandong province – is the largest platycodon grandiflorum, or Chinese bellflower, production and processing base in China.
The Chinese bellflower is used in traditional Chinese medicine as a cough suppressant and expectorant for common colds, coughs, sore throats, tonsillitis and chest congestion, among other things.
A platycodon grandiflorum plantation in Chishang town. [Photo/zbnews.net]
Thanks to the favorable environment of the area, the platycodon grandiflorum produced in Chishang has secured a geographical indication trademark. This is an identifying label used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation due to that origin – making the platycodon grandiflorum crop more profitable.
The Boshan Industrial Association of Platycodon grandiflorum was founded in 2008 to promote the quality of the products and standardize the export market. Under its unified management, the Chishang platycodon grandiflorum began to be exported and it has since become a best-selling product in South Korea, with a market share of 60 percent.
What is surprising is that there is no large-scale platycodon grandiflorum plantation in the town just now. This is because platycodon grandiflorum is not suitable for successive planting and the soil of Chishang town, after years of planting, is no longer suitable.
As a result, Chishang built a large-scale planting industrial park in Chifeng city, in North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region. It has also optimized the related industrial structure of platycodon grandiflorum and extended the supply chain.
Around half the residents in Chishang town are involved in platycodon grandiflorum processing. [Photo/zbnews.net]
The processing industry now employs over 7,000 locals, including more than 5,000 older rural women.