Forsythia becomes boon for business
According to county officials, the local businesses' move to diversify the forsythia industry is also a response to the provincial authorities' plan to boost the development of the herbal tea industry, which includes the production of forsythia tea products.
"As Shanxi plans to develop the herbal tea sector into an economic pillar, I believe there is more growth potential for the industry in our county," said Wang Yuan, Party secretary of the county.
In past years, according to Wang, the county's farmers mostly collected forsythia from the wild and the growing area of forsythia was about 3,000 hectares.
"As demand from local herbal tea producers rises substantially, we plan to develop more than 1,400 hectares of artificial plantations for forsythia," Wang said.
The locals also view the forsythia plantations as a major attraction for tourists, when the beautiful flowers bloom between March and April.
Nanliang, the earliest township in Yicheng to develop artificial plantations for forsythia, is also a pioneer in developing herb-based sightseeing tours, Wang said.
Since 2017, the township has held forsythia-themed tourism events every year, attracting tens of thousands of visitors.
"We are planning to develop a theme park on forsythia in the county, highlighting activities including sightseeing, tea tasting and recreation," Wang said.
Guo Yanjie contributed to this story.