Since 1999, Yan'an has returned farmland to forests on a large scale. 20 years of ecological and environmental protection efforts have brought the forest coverage in Yan'an from 33.5% to 52.5%, the vegetation coverage from 46% to 81.3%, and moved the vegetation area of Shaanxi 400 kilometers northward.
Apple trees have driven away storms, boosted apple-related industry, and improved the livelihood of local people in Yan'an, an old revolutionary site.
Growing apples in Yan'an started by Li Xin'an in Asi Village, Luochuan County.
In 1947, 28-year-old Li Xin'an brought apple saplings from Henan with a donkey and a cart, then he built the first orchard in Luochuan County, only covering 6.7 mu (about 4466 square meters).
The year 1951 saw his trees yield fruits. Inspired by Li's success, more and more farmers started to grow apples. From 1951 to 1955, the apple orchard in Luochuan County expanded to nearly 100 mu.
Luochuan now boasts a total apple planting area of 530,000 mu, or 3.3 mu per capita, ranking first in the country. The total output of apples in Luochuan County reaches 930,000 tons, and the per capita disposable income of fruit farmers stands at 13,249 yuan. At the end of 2019, Luochuan County registered the agricultural output value of 3.665 billion yuan, of which apple output value was 3.391 billion yuan, accounting for 92.5% of the total. And Asi village is billed as "Apple Village" that integrates apple industry and tourism.
Xi Zhangxi, general manager of Shaanxi Top Fruit Technology Co., Ltd. ("Top Fruit Industry") ，has been engaged in apple planting and production.
In plants of Top Fruit Industry, apples are carefully selected. After intelligent measuring of appearance, sugar-acid ratio, and mold heart, apples that do not meet the standard will be eliminated. The qualified ones are distributed to various channels for packaging and selling.
Top Fruit Industry has also set up unmanned vending machines near the bustling airports, high-speed railway stations, and business centers to sell individual apples, so that consumers can eat quality apples delivered by modern logistics.
With new technologies, the apple industry will have a promising future. Tiny apples have made a big difference, increasing their income and lifting local farmers out of the poverty.