Chinese Hybrid Mulberry to benefit small farmers in Pakistan
Zhengding,Nov.22 (China Economic Net)-“With an annual turnover of RMB 20 mln, our protein mulberry garden changed local farmers’livelihood, for protein mulberry planting we mobilized over 76 acres of land and provided jobs for over 200 households. With a successful yield test conducted in Xinjiang, we are looking forward to introducing protein mulberry plants, as well as planting technology, mulberry leaf processing equipment to Pakistan, since Pakistan and Xinjiang share climatic similarities, and have a large ideal customer base.”，Wu Zhanwen, the owner of Runze Protein Mulberry ecological garden in China’s Zheng Ding county, told China Economic Net.
Protein mulberry is a hybrid type of mulberry developed by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences. As the name implies, it maintains a higher level of protein compared to other types of mulberry plant, the highest protein content of protein mulberry leaves was 36%, and that of branches was 28%. Due to its resistance to drought, heat as well as cold, it shares 20 ~ 30 year life cycle in the northern part of China, where the lowest temperature can hit minus 30 ℃. It has attracted much attention in its uses in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), food and beverage industries.
“1-deoxynojirimycin (DNJ) is a piperidine alkaloid enriched in mulberry leaves, which proves to be anti-diabetic. Statistics suggest that over 19 million people are now suffering diabetes in Pakistan, as the numbers continue to rise, anti-diabetic related products are starting to draw people’s attention and I think protein mulberry related products can benefit the country a lot, ”Wu shared his opinion, “Moreover, compare to other types of mulberry plant, lignified fiber in protein mulberry leaves are relatively low, so it can be consumed by the human body directly. Locals in my county cook the fresh protein mulberry leaves into different delicious cuisine and we process the rest into different products such as mulberry leaf tea, mulberry leaf powder.” Wu revealed.
Currently, Wu and his team’s plantation scales at up to 76 acres, yet in Pakistan the small scale farmers constitute 60 percent of the country's rural population. This means that the majority of farmers do not have access to more than 20 acres of land. The reporter can’t help to wonder, can small scale farmers benefit from planting protein mulberry with less money input?
“First of all, the entire plant of protein mulberry is usable, fresh leaves can be sold to restaurants as food ingredients and the rest can be made into other value-added products. The processing cost is really cheap. This means that small farmers in Pakistan do not need to invest a lot.” Wu said, “For small farmers in my county, we provide them with protein mulberry seeds and planting technical services, then we purchase back the plants when the harvest season comes, process them into value-added products and sell them all over China. 1 acre of protein mulberry can generate profit up to RMB 90,000 in China. We can definitely run a similar business model in Pakistan.”
It is worth noting that due to mulberry plant’s strong and deep root system, planting mulberry trees delivers a positive impact to the environment in terms of degraded land restoration and water conservation. “It is an ideal crop plant in providing sustainable agricultural development. We started to run a test field in Xinjiang earlier this year. The results were satisfying. We really wish to cooperate with Pakistani farmers!” Wu concluded.