Xi's strategy brings grads back to village

[InKunming--China] Villages across China are witnessing a major transformation, thanks to favorable policies and support from the government as part of President Xi Jinping's rural revitalization strategy.

The results are evident. Just one year ago, Li Shaoqing and her husband had no goals for their business, the breeding of black pigs. Li said they worked hard but had no idea whether it would pay off.

Now, with a clear vision, the couple expect their annual sales to reach 100 million yuan ($14.5 million) in the next three years - seven times the current figure.

The 37-year-old and her husband, Wang Yuanhu, 39, who majored in animal husbandry and veterinary sciences at a college in Shandong province, returned to Wang's birthplace - Sanjianxi village in the Zhangqiu district of Jinan, the capital of Shandong province - and began breeding black pigs in 2009.

President Xi, who inspected the village in June last year, recognized the couple's business. Li said Xi told them it was "good to start a business in the rural area and it's good to breed black pigs".

Li said, "We are lucky that rural areas are being revitalized economically and socially through a series of encouraging policies," adding that they benefited a lot from the government policies, including startup support, that helped them save more than 3 million yuan.

Last year, the couple have enriched their business profile, from breeding pigs to offering a complete chain of services, including processing and packaging.

They have developed three breeding centers, including in the village of Songjiazhai in Luxi county, Hunan province, with a combined area of 330 hectares. They have provided employment to more than 50 local farmers.

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Sanjianxi village in June 2018. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

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Sanjianxi village in 2007. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

The couple are among the dozens of college graduates who have returned to set up their own businesses in Sanjianxi village.

"We have been asking young people to return to the village by providing them with incentives such as land at a lower cost and startup funding," said Gao Shuzhen, Party chief of the village. "With such things, young people can run businesses at a low cost, provide jobs to local farmers and activate resources in the village," she said.

Located about 50 kilometers to the east of Jinan, Sanjianxi village, with a population of 3,380, has convenient transportation facilities.

The village has long been hampered by poor soil quality. Through the cultivation of corn and wheat, each household was able to make no more than 2,000 yuan per year.

The village administration has established enterprises to help farmers to manage the land. Farmers can decide whether to transfer the user rights of their land to these public enterprises.

So far, the village has been granted user rights on more than 200 hectares of land. On this land, an agricultural park, ecological livestock-breeding areas and an industrial park have been developed, and these have provided jobs to more than 80 percent of the village's workforce.

Li Xiumei, 47, a farmer in the village, has been working for a port processing company for four years. In addition to the income that her family earns for having transferred land use rights, she is earning 2,000 yuan per month by working for the company.

"It takes me only a few minutes to reach the company from home, which helps me to take care of my parents," she said.

Li Xiumei expects that her son will go into business in the village after graduation, although she said that decision will be up to him.

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Sanjianxi village in June 2018. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

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Sanjianxi village in 2007. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

"Life in the village is as good as in the city. We have our own apartment and we are familiar with the people and the environment," she said.

Meanwhile, an ancient town that is one kilometer from the company where Li works is being restored. Gao, the Party chief of Sanjianxi village, said the restoration work is progressing rapidly, and the village plans to promote tourism in line with President Xi's rural revitalization strategy.

Xi proposed the strategy at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2017, with the goal of building up rural areas with thriving businesses, pleasant living conditions, effective governance and prosperity.

An article by Xi on the rural revitalization strategy that was published on June 1 said that without modernization of agriculture and rural areas, there can be no modernization of the country.

Xi said in the article that the modernization of agriculture and rural areas is the overall goal of the strategy.

Gao said, "We are integrating resources in the agricultural sector and service industries in order to provide local farmers with a regular income."

Zhao Shunli, 57, a farmer, is planning to set up a shop in the ancient town to sell baked sweet potatoes.

The combined income of Zhao and his son and daughter has risen to around 10,000 yuan this year - twice as much as last year.

With neat rows of apartments, and clean and wide roads, Sanjianxi has few signs of a rural area. More than 40 percent of farmers in the village have moved to apartments, with the remainder expected to shift to apartments within two years, Gao said. The village also has advanced sewage treatment facilities.

Statistics from the village administration show that the average income of residents of the village, once poverty stricken, is 26,000 yuan, while businesses have registered annual income of 3 million yuan.

The Jinan city government is promoting the village as an example of rural revitalization.

Shandong released a five-year plan on its rural revitalization last year, the first of its kind, listing a number of major projects, programs and actions for 2018-22.

Some of the projects include talent hiring, land use and industrial infrastructure in the rural areas.

"When we went to college years ago, we had hoped to settle down in a city," said Li Shaoqing, the pig farmer. "But it is in our village that we realized our dream of living a quality life, thanks to rural revitalization."


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