Student postpones graduation to help farmers in northwest China’s Shaanxi develop potato processing industry
Du, 29, has been providing technical assistance to Xinglong City, Zhenba County of Hanzhong City in the southern part of the province since 2018, after learning that the city, known for its high-quality potatoes, suffered from a lack of sales channels, forcing to sell potatoes at lower prices despite their good quality.
Seeing the situation, Du and his team decided to bring the university’s colorful potato seeds to the city, encouraging farmers to plant colorful potatoes. However, the colored potatoes did not sell well at first as many people had never seen the variety.
To solve the problem, Du and his team started making potato chips. Du contacted a local workshop but found that he did not have the necessary equipment to produce potato chips. However, a workshop manager advised him to use the potatoes to make a local snack that was originally made from rice. Following his advice, they tried to prepare the snack and were finally successful.
Du improved the recipe several times until it tasted the best it could be, then began to market the products. To his surprise, Du’s team sold 10,000 yuan ($ 1,540) worth of snacks in an hour. The success of processed potato products has opened up sales channels for potato producers, making the potato a cash cow for them.
The afternoon snack made with colored potatoes
At the end of last year, Du and his team set up a potato processing factory in a village in Xinglong town with the help of the Zhenba County government, which had the ambition to create their own potato processing industry.
The man also offered to postpone his graduation, which was due to take place in June 2020, by one year, as he needed to spend more time setting up the production line. His request was approved by his supervisor.
“My classmates and teachers asked me to rethink my application, but I decided to stay there for another six months.”
He did not want to let the villagers down because he had promised to help them build the factory, he added.
The production line, capable of producing 5,000 tons of snacks per year, was put into operation in early 2021. It increased the added value of each ton of colored potatoes from (~ US $ 154.25) 1,000 yuan to (~ $ 231.37) 1,500 yuan.
The factory has also created jobs for local villagers. So far, Du and his team have also provided twin assistance to dozens of farmers. Du also plans to create his own business to bring the university-industry model to the villages, in order to contribute to rural revitalization.