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$9 Cabbages, Emergency Pork: Coronavirus Tests China on Food


Last week, 350 tons of Shouguang produce traveled to Wuhan on a convoy of trucks led by a police car.

The trucks were full thanks to people like Li Youhua, 51, who grows chili peppers in a village near the city.

Late one night last week, the village committee put out a call on the messaging app WeChat, asking local farmers for extra produce that they could send to Wuhan. Mr. Li swung into action.

He, his wife and their two daughters grabbed flashlights and worked through the night. They harvested half a ton of chilies, twice their normal daily output.

Mr. Li said he had not yet heard from the authorities about when or what he might be paid for his contribution. If it ends up being a gift, that would be all right by him, he said. When Shouguang suffered catastrophic flooding in recent years, people from across China came to his and other farmers’ aid.

“We cannot forget that,” Mr. Li said.

On Saturday, a second caravan of trucks from Shouguang set out for Wuhan bearing broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes and more.

As the trucks’ drivers waited to leave the city that morning, they pondered what they had gotten themselves into. They were not sure how much they would be paid for the job. But they knew that when it was finished, they would be quarantined at home for two weeks, meaning potentially thousands of dollars in forgone income.

Still, Ma Chenglong, 34, volunteered right away when the call went out on WeChat.

“When the country is in trouble, we common people have a duty,” Mr. Ma said.

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