China Startup: Turning sand into business

Most of China’s rice, the country’s staple food, comes from the middle-lower Yangtze Plain. But now, the plain farmlands have a competitor – desert soil.

Though it might sound impossible to many, Teng Fei is making that happen already.

The idea germinated after Teng read about paddy plantation in the desert in an online forum. He then started a trial program in Horgin’s sandy terrain in Inner Mongolia. Along with four business partners, the entrepreneur then founded New China Agriculture Corporation in 2014. Their brand is now called Shami.

Though they registered the brand in 2014, Teng and his partners have been experimenting for a while. In 2013, they tried crop rotation technique to test soil feasibility. And upon positive productivity, their cultivation area has expanded from 3.3 hectares to 333 hectares now – every hectare of the desert land produces 200 to 250 kilograms of rice.

“Through the technology of crop rotation, we are trying to turn deserts into organic farmlands,” Teng said.

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