Agriculture expert Lewis: Kunming brings pleasant surprises every day

Lewis William Dagger, New Zealand agriculture management expert, works in Yunnan. [Provided to InKunming]

Lewis who gained Yunnan Provincial Scientific Award in 2010 is the first foreigner gaining the award in Yunnan Province. [Provided to InKunming]

[InKunming--Interviews & Polls]  Lewis William Dagger, as a foreign talent in agriculture field specially invited by Yunnan provincial government, began his life in Kunming after he formally stepped on the land of Yunnan Province.

Before 2001, Lewis Dagger was the general manager of a New Zealand fruit company, having high yearly payment, living a satisfied life in society. Before coming to China, he had accumulated experience in cultivating apple, kiwi fruit, persimmon, corn, tomato and flowers. Meanwhile, he was also familiar about exportinf and importing horticultural plants, and had visited many countries in Asia, Europe, and North America.

Lewis Dagger was invited to visit in 2011, at the time that Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences cooperated with New Zealand Royal Horticultural Research Institute in technology field. During his several journeys in Yunnan, Lewis gradually found that Yunnan's fruit industry has a basket of defects yet has huge potential for development.

Lewis cited some examples to journalists: "when I made investigation in Yunnan, I found Yunnan's farmers still farmed land with relatively backward technology, and lacked courage to try new production method. Young people have seldom good opportunities to receive decent education in horticultural plant breeding. Besides, standardized management system for production process and plucking process, and plant quality control standard that is in step with international level has not been established."

In the year of 2005, with powerful support from both China and New Zealand governments, Lewis formally gave up his work in New Zealand and started his work in Kunming with companion of his wife Chris. At that year, he was 54 years old.

"Even though Kunming is a small city compared to Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou in China, it owns special and traditional cultural charms that attract me a lot. I thought I could live a great different life than ever before, so I chose to work in Kunming under encouragement of both China and New Zealand governments." Lewis explained the reason why he left his superior job in New Zealand and decided to work in Kunming in the end.

With strong support of Lewis, an Anning fruit company which mainly plants red pear, successfully exported 3,859. 07 tons of fruits abroad, and made a foreign exchange earning of 3.2914 million U.S. dollars. Lewis' associates Su Jun and Mr. Tong highly regarded Lewis' accomplishments in helping their company to improve fruit production level.

"Due to Lewis' contribution in planting red pears, growing areas of the red pears have been expanded from 40,000 mu to 140,000 mu, which cover one sixth of total growing areas of the red pears in the province. Farmers' income has also been increased from 6,000 yuan per mu to 10,000 yuan per mu. Income growth of farmers largely stimulates their working enthusiasm." Su Jun told InKunming reporter.

Mr. Tong, who is the general manager of Anning Fruit Company, also agreed that it is because of Lewis, their company's sales income in overseas markets has been greatly improved, reaching 700,000 U.S. dollars annually.

Except for achievements accomplished by Lewis that is mentioned above, Lewis also encouraged international scientific research institutions to actively contact Yunnan local enterprises and research organizations. According to Lewis, he received no less than 200 foreign experts and friends in Kunming in past years. These experts and friends are respetively from Australia, New Zealand, America, Europe, Thailand, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, etc.

During the period Lewis worked in Yunnan, he separately received Friendship awards in provincial level and in national level. Lewis gained Clouds Award for Foreign Experts in the province, as well as received a cordial meeting with former premier Wen Jiabao, and won Science and Technology Cooperation Award in 2010 in the province.

Lewis helped to change backward plant production situation in Yunnan with his great efforts, broke traditional operational mode of small orchards in the province, and speeded up internationalized process of fruit industry in the province.

Until now, he still keeps enthusiasm in working in Yunnan and enjoys his living state here. In 2014, he is over 60 years old. For most of old people who are at his age, they would choose to retire. "I do not want to retire. I have no concepts in retirement," Lewis said, "If possible, I will work until I think I cannot."

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Lewis shared his experiences in working in Kunming and Yunnan with InKunming reporter at a coffee bar. [Photo/ Chen Yingying]

Picture shows Lewis with his family members in New Zealand. [Provided to InKunming]

In Kunming, Lewis lives a life with his wife Chris as other normal Chinese people do. Husband goes to work every day, while wife is responsible for doing housing works and cooking meals. They have lived in the city for more than 10 years. In Lewis’ eyes, Yunnan and Kunming are his second hometown, in which he spends almost eleven months a year to stay. Only for spending Christmas days, Lewis will go back to New Zealand.

"Kunming has the same climate as my hometown Auckland does in New Zealand. The climate makes me feel very comfortable." Because of his affection to Kunming, Yunnan and China, he donated money for victims who lost their homes in Wenchuan earthquake in 2008.

As Lewis works in Kunming for such a long time, he knows and witnesses the city's changes step by step. Till now, as a westerner in the city, he said he still could find surprises that may amaze him every day.

Covers fixed on electric vehicles, women wearing ethnic costumes, a duck pet walked by a young person on the road……all scenes like these that may happen every day in Kunming catch Lewis' eyes.

Lewis knows that city flower of Kunming is camellia. He also knows that sister city connecting New Zealand with Kunming is New Plymouth. Lewis could easily point out that which restaurant in Kunming serves authentic local dishes to guests.

"There are no places that I had not gone to in Yunnan," Lewis said. In around past 10 years, he had travelled a lot in Yunnan by himself, with family members or with friends. However, Yunnan province and Kunming city can still give pleasant surprises to him, according to him.

Lewis saw that old houses were toppled down by Kunming government gradually; more and more green trees are planted in the city; number of bus routes interconnected the city are increased; sanitary standard in Kunming's restaurants has been improved to a new level; and supermarkets in the locality now serve cheese, butter, bacon and things like this that cannot be found anywhere in the city before.

To such changes, Lewis feels happy, since his life level in the city has been enhanced with the time passing by. Certainly, the changes also prove that life level of Kunming people was improved along with improvement of local government’s management level.

To Lewis, although he always works in a busy state, he still loves each day that takes in the city. Kunming can bring freshness and pleasant surprises to him almost every day. He lives happily, feels very fulfilled in Kunming.

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(Editors: Cathy Chen, Tracy)

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