Open

Blossoming peach flowers in the shadow of Hangduan mountains

As a result of heavy pesticide use in the 1980's and the subsequent decline of bees and other natural pollinators the farmers of China's Sichuan province were forced to hand pollinate their fruit crops. Jiuxiang, a town in the southeast of Sichuan, is a major pear producer of the region. Each year in early March, when the trees begin to blossom, the farmers go out to their orchards and begin the hand pollination process, utilising a simple tool of bamboo rod and chicken feathers The process is painstaking and labour intensive as every flower on every tree is individually pollinated, using a delicate technique that takes several years to perfect. With rising labour costs and no sign of the bees returning, the future of this farming method, along with the people's way of life, remains uncertain. A harmonious balance between economy and ecology has yet to be found.
Open

Shiqin Tang (38) stands amongs his  pear trees, that he planted 20 years ago. His orchard consists of 45 trees.

Open

Every member of the family is involved in the hand pollination process in some way. Old woman selecting the anthers by using a tooth brush.


Open

Qiaco Mei Chen (19) with the pollination stick.

Open

The transport of the masses: motorcycles are the most common form of transport in the mountainous areas of Jiuxiang.

Young couple on its way to start pollinating the pear trees.

Open

Young boy in his parents pear orchard.

Open

Farmer passes the peach orchard on a man-made path. Chinese farmers often take small breaks in the after noon  in order to recoup their energy.

Open

Shuqin Lee (50) takes a break. Her partner rests behind her.

Open

Opening pear flowers on the slopes.

Open

Yali flowers on the ground. The flowers are useless without their anthers.

Open

In preparation for hand pollinating.

Woman collects the anthers from the Yali variety and collecting in to a pot before they start the drying process.

Open

Chen Tao and his mother in Dayan. 

Open

Chen Tao pollinating the family orchard

Open

A late blossoming local variety pear.

Open

Farmer prepares the feathers 

Open

Chicken feathers waiting to be made of a part of the pollination stick

Open

Zhong enjoys a cigarette in the pear cabinet.

Open

woman pollinate the upper flowers

Open

Farmer holds the Yali flowers. He must dry them in the next few days.

The drying process requires special temperature conditions.

Open

Peach orchard surrounded by garlic fields.

In early spring farmers start working on these fields.

It's just as painstaking as the hand pollination, but give them  decent financial supplement income throughout the year.

The hand pollinating season starts right after selling the many kilograms of garlic.


Open

Farmer awaits by the almost dried Liushahe river.

The river is rich in water in the winter time, but this time of the year it runs very dry as no water from the mountains feeding it.


Open

The main square in Jiuxiang fully prepared for the flower festival

Open

a tourist from Beijing arrived to welcome the flower festival

Open

farmer walks with his home made petal drying cartwheel

Open

Girl on the way to school.

90% of the children are in education in Jiuxiang,

The next generation is hardly seen pollinating the flowers, They focus to move to bigger cities as soon as they finished their secondary education.

Open

the market house where all the business takes place between farmers and traders

Open

Flowering slopes in Hangduan mountains

Open

On the very top of the tree. Aged farmer works on his orchard. In Juixiang even the oldest are capable to complete physically challenging tasks like pollinating each blossom one by one even in the most difficult and dangerous environment.

Close