World Fig Conference & Expo to be held in SW China's Neijiang

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China's fig planting area has reached about 23,000 hectares, ranking the seventh in the world. [Photo/Xinhua]

The 2023 World Fig Conference & Expo will be held in Weiyuan county, Neijiang city, Sichuan province, from Aug. 15-18, said the Sichuan government in a news conference on July 12. 

This will be the first time the quadrennial event, hosted by the International Society for Horticulture Science, to be staged in China. 

"By hosting the event, Weiyuan will further consolidate and enhance the status and influence of China's fig industry in the world market, so that more people can understand and recognize the value of China's fig industry," said Xu Bin, chief agronomist of the Sichuan agriculture and rural affairs department.

At present, the total area of fig cultivation in the world is about 313,000 hectares, and the Mediterranean countries account for about 60% of the total area. China's fig planting area has reached about 23,000 hectares, ranking the seventh in the world.

The event will take the theme of "integrating cultural traditions and sci-tech innovation". During the event, there will be review meeting on fig products from around the world, an international fig academic seminar, the economic and trade promotional fair of Neijiang, which is known as "China's sweet food capital" as well as exhibitions on fig processing, products and culture.

"We will showcase the unique cultural charm and industrial development vitality of China's fig industry from a new perspective, and deepen exchanges and cooperation with the global fig industry," said Xu Lianying, deputy mayor of Neijiang. 

According to Luo Houyong, head of the Weiyuan county government, Weiyuan has taken the fig industry as the leading industry of characteristic agriculture in the county since 2002, and has formed a relatively complete fig industry chain, achieved industrial integration and development. The industry plays an important role in increasing farmers' income.

Over recent years, China's fig industry has developed rapidly, and the cultivation and planting have spread all over the country, among which Weiyuan of Sichuan, Kashgar of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Weihai of Shandong province are the most representative, according to Song Huigang, deputy chair of the China Cash Forest Association.

Song pointed out that China has four new fig varieties with independent intellectual property rights, and Weiyuan has also carried out the world's first space breeding of fig, with a large number of strain resources, providing variety reserves for the diversification development of the fig industry in China.

"China has become an important member of the world fig family, and has built a whole industry chain of research and development, planting, processing, sales and tourism," said Song.

But there remains a big gap for the country to meeting its domestic demand for fig fruits and products. China's imports of dried fig fruits have increased exponentially since 2017, and it exceeded 7,000 tons in 2021.

"Some universities are conducting fig-related research, and domestic variety cultivation has also diverted its focus from imported breeds to independent selection and breeding," Song added. "Once the country cultivates its own fig breeds that can yield more storable fig fruits, the development of its fig industry will be accelerated remarkably."

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