CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's agricultural industry has much to gain from investments in China, where landscaping and plant nurseries are billion-dollar industries, state Agriculture Commissioner Gus R. Douglass said Monday.
At Capitol Market, Douglass welcomed six Chinese agriculture company delegates who've been touring West Virginia on a trade mission since Sunday.
Their visit is the first step in building a relationship with the approximately 23,000 farmers living and working in the state, Douglass said.
"West Virginia has been making a name for itself with marketing and promotion of our farmers that have developed from local activities to full-blown industries," he said. "Some you see here [at Capitol Market] started out in the back of a pickup truck and now they have commercial greenhouses."
The delegates showed an interest in learning more about greenhouse technology when they visited Bob's Market and Greenhouses, a business in Mason, on Monday, Douglass said. He said Bob's Market is one of the top 10 greenhouses in the country.
Chinese agriculture companies haven't fully embraced commercial greenhouses and are now looking into extending their seasons, Douglass said.
Douglass said he hopes that in return, the Chinese delegates will teach West Virginia horticulturists how to genetically alter plants and flowers. Chinese horticulture companies are good at changing flowers' colors to make them more vibrant, he said.
Jianguo Deng, vice president of Orient Landscape, wants his tour to be the first of many to West Virginia, he said through an interpreter.