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'Chili cutters' struggle for Guizhou spice

( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2017-08-24

In Zunyi Xiazi Chili City, China's largest chili trading market located in Xiazi county of Guizhou province, there are at least 1,000 women "chili cutters" who make a living with scissors cutting chili stalks.

How much they earn depends on their speed in cutting stalks, with some able to cut six chili stalks per second.

Chili cutters first appeared in the 1990s. At that time, chili merchants in Xiazi county sold chili without stalks in order to enhance market competitiveness.

Generally, one "chili cutter" can cut about 150 kilograms of chili per day, earning about 30 yuan ($4.5). For women in rural areas at that time, the income was considerable.

With the development of science and technology, now many merchants use machines to cut chili stalks. But some unique chilies, like the Mantianxing chili (a long and thin species), still require cutting by hand.

Nowadays incomes of chili cutters have increased by 3.5 fold. "The work of cutting chili stalks is hard, but it never feels hard," said a 60-year-old chili cutter surnamed Jiang, who has been doing this work for 20 years.

"These chili cutters are hardworking and honest," said Li Yibo, one of the three largest local chili merchants. "One time I gave them 15,000 kilograms of chili in the afternoon and asked them to finish the next morning. They stayed late to cut chili without any complaints and finished the order on time."

Although their work is considered simple manual labor, the chili cutters are highly appreciated in the local chili market for their hard work.

Behind each pair of scissors, there is a family struggling for a living. Chili cutters are the epitome of the unyielding spirit of Guizhou people, and also the source of confidence that make Zunyi Xiazi Chili City famous worldwide.

"The flavor of Guizhou chili is very different. It is not too spicy and the color is medium," said Jacob, a chili purchaser from India. "Compared with chili produced in other regions, Guizhou chili has a special aroma. It might be an interesting chili to look forward to."

Chili from the market is sold to more than 30 countries and regions, including the United States, Japan and India.

Source: Guizhou Radio&TV Station

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