China: Asparagus 'could hold back the desert'

A man holding a bundle of harvested asparagus
Image caption Could this vegetable grow in Inner Mongolia?

Asparagus could hold the key to stopping parts of China turning to desert, it's suggested.

Researchers have been testing the vegetable - popular in Chinese cuisine - as a windbreak as part of a "desert-control project" in north China's Shanxi Province, reports news agency Xinhua. It quotes "vegetable expert" Mao Liping as saying: "Asparagus can grow to a height of 1.3 to 1.5 meters tall and reduce wind speed by 20 to 30 per cent."

This seemingly helps contain sand, while it's hoped that planting the vegetable could also boost farmers' meagre incomes. It seems its strong drought and cold resistance, along with an ability to grow in barren soil, enable it to thrive in a testing site which, according to Mao, has "worse conditions than deserts in Inner Mongolia".

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