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Village leader returns from congress to spread its messages

By SHI RUIPENG in Nanning and JIANG CHENGLONG | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2022-11-29 09:18

Yang Ning (right) plants edible fungi with fellow villagers in Jiangmen village of Liuzhou, Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region. CHINA DAILY

"I'll spread the spirit of our Party's National Congress to more than 500 households in our village so they can all benefit from the good policies," said Yang Ning, leader of the village of Jiangmen in South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.

It's one of her most important tasks over the next few years. Under Yang's leadership over the past decade, Jiangmen, a remote and previously impoverished mountain village, has flourished.

"We must head toward rural vitalization and make our village even more beautiful," said the 37-year-old at a village sharing session recently.

Sharing sessions are Yang's major communication channel through which she interprets the policies and course charted at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Earlier this October, as a delegate from the grassroots, she participated in the Party congress.

The village leader was asked to share her thoughts on what were some of the good policies that came out of Beijing during the congress.

Yang answered by highlighting the report by General Secretary Xi Jinping.

"It's important to fully achieve rural vitalization by developing featured industries based on local conditions, with rural areas a priority," she said. "So we must find a development path for our village by using our abundant natural resources."

Yang pointed to a food specialty popular across Guangxi — youcha — a distinctive breakfast food that consists of tea leaves, fried rice and green beans.

"In our village's industrial park there will be a factory dedicated to producing youcha, which can then be sold to many parts of China via e-commerce, so as to drive our featured industries," she said, stressing that she is full of confidence in the future of Jiangmen.

Developing Jiangmen by focusing on a featured industry is what Yang has been doing since returning to the village in 2010 after graduating from a university in the regional capital of Nanning.

Her decision to return home went against the grain at that time as many young people were leaving the village to explore other opportunities.

After some consideration, Yang decided to work as a member of the village committee, becoming the first village worker with a university background in Jiangmen. She wanted to use her knowledge acquired at university to improve the living conditions in the village where the poverty rate was 20 percent.

However, the young village worker was challenged by several failures before achieving success.

In the beginning, Yang tried to lead low-income families to develop bamboo processing and pepper planting but they failed due to crop disease and poor transportation.

During a house visit in 2017, she found a kind of purple glutinous rice at the villager's home and learned that it was a unique variety called Zihei Xiangnuo, which means purple black fragrant glutinous rice in Chinese. The growing of this type of rice had been passed down by local Miao people for thousands of years.

She learned the earnings of planting the variety were twice that of ordinary glutinous rice. Thus, Yang visited every part of the village to persuade villagers to plant the unique rice collectively to make money.

To dispel the misgivings of villagers, she raised more than 300,000 yuan ($42,000) in startup capital for the industry by selling her own house, and promised to give people the materials needed for planting, adding that the government would also provide industrial subsidies for poor families.

A total of 63 poor households joined and planted 49 hectares of the special rice. A year later, the income per hectare had increased by more than 22,000 yuan, motivating other villagers to get involved. Yang was elected as the village's first female leader of the village committee.

Thereafter, Jiangmen village established its own brand and began selling agricultural products, with the average household income increasing by more than 3,200 yuan, lifting the whole village out of poverty.

Recalling her decision to return home, Yang doesn't regret a thing. "The vast rural world is really promising," she said. "Now more than 240 young people in the village have returned home. I believe that more young people will join our rural vitalization business in the future."

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