Xiantao city, Central China's Hubei province, is leveraging on this region's richness in selenium, one of the 14 essential trace elements that is good for human health, to promote agritourism, or agricultural tourism.
Yang Peizhong, a fruit planter in Chenchang county in Xiantao city, has benefited from the central government's policy to encourage new types of operators in the agricultural market and the development of Se-enriched industry since 2014.
"Thanks to the government policy, I had the opportunity to register Xinyi Family Farm in September 2014 and started to operate agricultural tourism. Because the fruits and vegetables growing in Xiantao are rich in selenium, which is good for people's health, the number of visitors who come to our family farm increases very fast."
In the past the farm has sold all their fruits and vegetables to supermarkets, sales people or customers. Now about one-third are picked by tourists. The market price of grapes is about 10 yuan per jin (half a kg) but the price can be as high as 20 yuan per jin on the farm. By operating Xinyi Family Farm, Yang has gained considerable economic profits.
However, it is not just about money but also mindset, according to Tian Xijiao, Yang Peizhong's wife.
"I used to be a merchant and couldn't accept becoming a farmer at the very beginning, but after learning [about clean] technology, I found planting green vegetables are of a lot of fun. Now I consider it my career."
Urban citizens come to the family farm to enjoy fresh air and a green environment while picking grapes.
Yang added they also have a lot of government support in getting loans, fertilizer, advanced technology and building agricultural infrastructure.
Xinyi is not the only family farm that benefits from selenium richness in Xiantao. A Er Di, another organic ecological leisure agriculture base, aslo promotes local economic development.
Li Xianmei, a staff member at the A Er Di organic ecological base, said her life has improved a lot after picking Se-enriched peaches here.
"The work of picking peaches here is very busy and I can make about 2,000 yuan per month. Compared to planting rice in the past, my life has changed a lot."
Song Qixuan, owner of A Er Di, said it is very important to respect rules of nature and use natural cultivation methods to plant fruits and vegetables, as it is not only important for this generation but also future generations.
"I plan to start a 'small hands in big hands activity' and provide more opportunities for children to learn natural scientific knowledge and experience agricultural life in our leisure agriculture base."
To satisfy tourists' diverse needs, some farmers transformed their houses into family inns for visitors to stay. Local villager Zhang Shaohua used to sell baby products in Guizhou, but was attracted to going back home because of the emerging opportunities brought by Se-enriched agriculture and the tourism industry.