HAINAN - Yellow pitaya, originally from South America, has taken root across the tropical island of South China's Hainan province, some 17,000 kilometers away from its origin.
In Le'an village of Sanjia town, Dongfang city, villagers are busy picking yellow pitaya on a plantation.
Starting from January this year, nearly six hectares of these plantations, which cover more than 13 hectares, began to mature, and harvest will last until September.
Similar to dragon fruit, the yellow pitaya is sweeter with high nutrition value.
Boasting a tropical climate and long-term sunlight, Hainan is suitable for planting yellow pitaya, says Chen Chengjin, director of Dongfang Guobo Yellow Pitaya Plantation.
In 2019, yellow pitaya was rarely planted in Hainan and the price was very high. Seeing a business opportunity, Chen's plantation started to cultivate this golden fruit.
Since yellow pitaya is a new variety, demanding a high level of skill to grow, the plantation only harvested about 750 kilograms of the fruit in 2020. One year later, the yield doubled thanks to improved skills and management.
Chen says yellow pitaya's growth cycle takes around 14 months from planting to harvest. The yield is relatively low, but the labor cost is high, leading to a high price.
"In summer, there are many fruits in the market and the price of big yellow pitaya purchased at the plantation is between 80 yuan ($11.95) and 100 yuan per kilogram," says Chen, adding that in winter the price could reach 100 yuan to 120 yuan per kilogram.
The estimated output of the plantation is between 125,000 kg and 150,000 kg and the total revenue is expected to pass 10 million yuan, Chen says. The fruit is mainly sold to big cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou in Zhejiang province and Guangzhou in Guangdong province, and is currently in short supply.
The fruit has also benefited villagers, with more than 20 working on the plantation to help manage the fruit trees.
Zhao Feng, 46, a farmer from Suanmei village, came to manage 1.8 hectares of the plantation in April last year and took care of the fruit trees with his wife.
Previously working on a dragon fruit plantation, Zhao says it was more difficult to grow yellow pitaya and more complicated to pick the fruit, but he earns more than at his last job.
"I can earn 6,000 to 7,000 yuan each month. We are very satisfied," Zhao says.