Rows of modern workshops stand neatly, while outside lies a small experimental field divided into more than a dozen different zones. Various varieties of safflower are planted here, as several workers weed the fields, observe the growth of safflower seedlings and make records.
The workshops of Xinjiang Tianding Safflower Oil Co., Ltd. are located in Yumin County in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The nutritional value of safflower seeds remains relatively unknown to the public. The oil extracted from safflower seeds has proven to be high in linoleic acid and vitamins. Linoleic acid is capable of reducing blood lipids, softening blood vessels, and stabilizing blood pressure.
"Referencing the olive oil process, we developed the cold pressing and cold smelting production process of safflower seed oil to better preserve its natural and nutritional value," said Wang Laizhong, general manager of the company.
In 2012, Wang set up a team to start the patent research and development for the cold pressing and cold smelting process of safflower seed oil. At the beginning, three team members took safflower seed samples to major scientific research institutions across the country to consult experts and learn about the cold pressing and cold refining process.
After returning to Yumin County, they transformed a Chinese medicine extraction factory and started conducting experiments in their new factory.
The team worked to lower the pressing temperature of safflower seed oil to below 60 degrees Celsius, which is ideal for minimizing the harmful substance benzopyrene.
In 2013, the team invested 80 million yuan (about 12 million U.S. dollars) to build a factory in Yumin, and the safflower seed oil production line went operational. In 2016, they received two national invention patents related to the refining and cold pressing methods of safflower seed oil production.
The oil processed by cold pressing and cold smelting is entirely edible.
Wang's team believes that demand for a better life is increasingly diversified, and the middle and high-end edible oil market has broad prospects.
"We hope to make quality health products, slowly influence consumers' views on eating edible oil and realize the value of safflower seed oil," Wang said.
In 2021, the turnover of the company was 30 million yuan, compared to 4 million yuan four years ago, and Wang expects the turnover to exceed 100 million yuan this year.
Innovation plays a significant role in their business. Wang said the company invests about 2 million yuan in research and development every year.
Now, the company hosts more than 40 employees, mostly local residents.
Ahat and his wife have been working in the company for nine years, and they have bid farewell to poverty. The couple earn 7,500 yuan together every month, and the company also provides them with accommodations.
The farming fields are the material "workshops." The company pays more than the market value for materials, in a bid to help local farmers and herdsmen increase their income.
A safflower science and technology industrial park is under construction beside the company. It is expected to receive the first batch of enterprises next summer. In the future, the park will include the whole industrial chain of safflower and develop tourism to bring more opportunities to locals.