Nature&More: What is the main reason to start with organic farming?
Wenbo Pan: The recent economic developments in China have significantly improved the quality of daily life for the Chinese people. Consequently more and more Chinese people are paying attention to food safety and demanding an organic alternative. Organic farming ensures the harmonious relationship between man and nature and is a guarantee for food safety. Furthermore, it not only stimulates biodiversity but is also beneficial for the local population on numerous fronts. For example, the price of organic ginger is about 20%-50% higher compared to the non organic alternative. Here on our organic farms, we need more people than on the non organic farms, which means that we can provide more employment to the local community.
Nature&More: What was the most difficult part of converting to organic production?
Wenbo Pan: First of all, compared to non-organic farming, the yield of organic production is always a bit lower, especially during the conversion period (2-3 years). Furthermore, when you start following organic principles there is a lot to learn and discover. Not being able to rely on chemicals means a different mindset and attitude and this takes time. On top of that you need to keep the farmers motivated and this takes a lot of attention.
What does the organic way of producing mean to your employees?
Wenbo Pan: We are one of the biggest employers in the area. As mentioned organic farming requires more labor input than non-organic farming, and this means more jobs can be given to the local community, especially women who are not willing to go the city and work there. So in essence organic productions means more employment. Here we have a female labor union to guarantee the equal rights and interests of these women who are working for us. We are also doing our utmost to create a pleasant working environment. For example we often organize day trips, sport events, excursions, etc. for our employees.
What are you most proud of?
Wenbo Pan: After a tough 3 years of converting to organic, we can see significant improvements in the quality of our products. Our ginger is very popular and our clients are very enthusiastic about the quality of our products. As a company, we are benefiting from all of these new developments. Most importantly our employees are also profiting from our conversion and are earning a better income as well.