Rose fragrance spreads beyond Xinjiang's deserts as industry blooms

2020-05-29 Xinhua Editor:Gu Liping

Early summer is one of the most enchanting seasons for the Yudu International Bazaar in Hotan City of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, as the bazaar's central square will be full of rose aroma.

A section of the bazaar turns into a fair for roses during this period. Local people sit on the ground and pick the rose petals. These petals are then sold to merchants who will mix minced petals with sugar or honey to make rose paste, a popular local delicacy.

Buzenap Tursongbuk, who makes and sells the sweet and fragrant paste at the bazaar, said she could rake in about 15,000 yuan (about 2,097 U.S. dollars) during the rose blossom season. "It sells fast among the locals," she said.

The bazaar, however, is just the tip of the budding rose industry iceberg. The flower and business is venturing beyond south Xinjiang where roses have been planted for over 1,000 years.

Located on the southern edge of the Taklimakan Desert, Hotan features an arid climate, unsuitable for traditional crop growth, whereas the sandy soil, ample sunshine and huge temperature difference between day and night endow this place with favorable conditions for rose planting. The local rose is a variant of the Damascus rose, which was introduced to China along the ancient Silk Road.

Just miles away from the bazaar is another famed rose-related destination. Founded in 2004, Xinjiang Hotan Sun Desert Rose Co., Ltd. has grown from a small plant to one of the largest rose processing firms in Hotan.

The company produces a string of rose products like rose tea, perfume and essential oil, with an annual output of over 30 million yuan.

"Roses in Hotan were mainly consumed locally, but now they are widely known across the country thanks to anti-poverty efforts and industrial development," said the company's general manager Li Yuqing.

Local governments have worked with companies like Sun Desert to turn roses into an emerging industry that help farmers increase their income by participating in rose planting and processing. Over 4,000 hectares of Hotan roses are planted in the prefecture, with an annual output topping 300 million yuan and over 10,000 locals employed in the sector.

The rose industry is expanding its value chain with enriching their product portfolio and tourism promotion in Hotan. Rose festivals are held each year when visitors can try picking roses and making the rose paste, among others.

As cross-provincial trips shrink over the novel coronavirus disease concerns, Li is resorting to online short-video platforms to spread the fame of Hotan roses and promote his products. He put clips of the production process of rose essential oil online and even livestreamed drinking rosewater to prove zero additives.

"The flowering season for Hotan roses is about one month, but its fame and fragrance can go far beyond and stay longer," Li said. "A rosy future is ahead." 

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