Sea of red as China’s chilli heartland celebrates a bumper harvest

Aerial footage shows vast swathes of land in the west covered with peppers as farmers collect hundreds of thousands of tonnes

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 October, 2017, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 October, 2017, 4:30pm

Aerial footage shows off a sea of red across the far west of China as local chilli farmers celebrate a bumper autumn harvest.

Xinjiang is one of China’s major chilli growing areas, with a total planting area of 40,000 hectares.

Its annual production of 250,000 tonnes of dried chillies accounts for one fifth of the national total production, according to China Central Television.

Local cuisine makes the most of the region’s bounty, with signature dishes that include the hot and peppery dapanji, or “big plate chicken”.

This spicy stew is made with chicken, chillies and potatoes, with hand-pulled noodles added to the remaining gravy midway through the meal.

One of the biggest chilli production bases is Anjihai Town, nicknamed China’s chilli hometown, which produces around 25,000 tonnes of chilli by itself.

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Drone footage showed long lines of harvested chilli peppers laid out of the ground around Anjihai.

From the ground the sea of red appeared to stretch as far as the eye could see.

One group of local farmers used some of the chillies to form a Communist Party flag that measured 35 metres long and 19 metres wide – which was only a small part of the total area covered by the harvest.

Farmers said the chilli industry was helping to improve their standard of living.

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“We planted 3.3 hectares of chillies this year, and we had a good harvest.

“Total returns are expected to amount to 170,000 to 180,000 yuan (US$25,800-27,300),” said Zhao Lihong, a chilli grower from Anjihai, told CCTV.