Monday, April 07, 2008

Apples!

Most of the last 3 weeks has been spent in Xi'an or in the countryside nearby, as we organised another study trip for companies to learn more about poverty in China, showed around the managers from another company whom we might work with, and trained 25 foreign students who (through AIESEC) will be now teaching High School kids in China (in English) about poverty related issues.

The last time we organised the study trip, one of the attendees noted that being in the countryside at the height of the apple picking season was the highlight of the trip for her, adding colour to the countryside (the apples are red) and getting all the villagers out into the fields; there was also colour added to the villages with all the thousands of apples (literally) piled up on every single piece of spare land in the villages, waiting to be packed and shipped/sold.

In March the trees are all bare unfortunately, though some of the apples on sale still taste ok even if they were picked before the Winter! Yesterday I attended a big conference to attract investment into Shaanxi province (where Xi'an is) and the government officials responsible for trade did not hesitate to stress the opportunities for investment into the apple industry as well as natural resources (plenty of coal, oil and gas still available for digging up if any readers are interested in this sector).

Before, when asking the villagers where all the apples went, I never believed them. I presumed a middle man picked them up, took them off to be packaged and then they were transported etc. But, when they were saying they are sold all over the world, they are speaking the truth! Indeed most of the apples are sold in the apple juice market, for export, all over the World. So next time you drink some apple juice, it may have been made with a red apple from a little village (with a name you cannot pronounce like Xi Po) in the middle of China and that you are helping make some poor people a little less poor... only a little, though, as most of the profit will be going to the supermarket, the distributer and the packing/juicing company, but still...eventually, down the line, some little kids are benefiting. Aaah, the benefits of trade!

Tomorrow I am off to steamy Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia for work/travel. Enjoy the snow in the UK!

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