Tongwei sponsors Chinese state TV show to encourage new aquaculture investors

Published on
August 11, 2020

A leading supplier of feed to China’s aquaculture sector is working with state television to lure farmers towards new premium fish species, with the hope of driving feed sales.

The Tongwei Group is sponsoring “Zhi Fu Jing,” a popular program on the China Central Television’s (CCTV) Agriculture TV channel. The program features rural businesspeople successfully venturing into aquaculture using new methods, species, and feed.

A recent episode of the show featured Yan Xia Fang, a businessman farming golden grass carp (Gold ctenopharyngodan) as a higher-yield diversification from his construction supply business.

Based in the eastern inland province of Anhui, Yan sells the fish, which is native to Russia, for several times the price of normal grass carp, having discovered the species while on a business trip to Guangzhou.

“I ate the fish in a restaurant and found the taste very special,” Yan said. “I visited a fish farm during that trip and when the farmer told me he was making a profit margin of CNY 10 [USD 1.40, EUR 1.20] per [550 grams]. I thought that’s a better margin than I was making from selling concrete.”

The fish’s color and pink-like flesh makes it sought-out among restaurant owners who pay CNY 20 (USD 2.80, EUR 2.40) per 500 grams, compared to CNY 6 (USD 0.86, EUR 0.73) for normal grass carp, Yan said.

“We’re selling our larger fish for CNY 160 [USD 20.40, EUR 19.20] each,” Yan said. “That’s a big price for farmers in our region.”

Lower land rent costs in Anhui compared to southerly Guangdong Province gives Yan an edge over competitors in Anhui. However, Yan struggled to find local wholesale buyers for the fish, and a failed attempt at trucking the fish to Guangzhou – it added too much to his costs – he built a visitor’s center and large restaurant complex where tourists dine and pay to feed and catch his prized fish.

A fruit orchard was also added for the tourists, Yan said.

The business model is similar to those being promoted by government policies that seek to raise rural incomes by creating attractions for wealthier urbanites.

To solve the challenge of water pollution meanwhile Yan releases water from his ponds into an adjacent network of rice paddies, which are also fertilized by fish droppings.

Yan’s story of success may prompt others to follow his path. “New model farming” is how Yan describes the venture, while a chyron advertising Tongwei rolls across the screen, accompanied by a warning that “investments have risks.”

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

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