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Veterinarian dedicated his life to farmers

By SHI XIAOFENG | China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-15 07:47

Wang Yicheng, a veterinarian in Zhejiang province who died in September, examines pigs farm in a grape greenhouse. He also instructed the workers at the farm. [Photo/China Daily]

On a Friday morning in September, livestock farmers across Zhejiang province gathered at Hangzhou Funeral Home to mourn a veterinarian.

Wang Yicheng, 61, an expert in the prevention and control of pig diseases who devoted himself to helping farmers, died of gastric cancer on Sept 12.

His deeds have attracted attention nationwide in recent weeks for his devotion to people at the grassroots level.

After graduating from Zhejiang University, Wang went to Australia in 1988 and the United States in 1997 for further studies. His research papers were published in top international virology magazines.

But when he returned, he decided to focus on clinical work.

"Farmers need to know more about how to prevent diseases; it is vital for them," said Bao Guolian, director of the Zhejiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences' Institute of Animal Science, recalling Wang's words.

Over the next 20 years, Wang helped more than 1,000 livestock farms and curbed the threat of animal diseases that could have caused major epidemics, according to the provincial agriculture department.

Ruan Zhangfeng, a farmer in Shangyu district of Shaoxing, Zhejiang, was one of those Wang helped.

Ruan's father operated a pig farm and died in an accident in 2004 when Ruan was 20, leaving him to take over a family business he knew nothing about.

"It was a nightmare for me. We had 6 million yuan ($908,000) in bank loans, and an epidemic hit our farm that same year. There were dead pigs hauled out of the farm every day. I thought I might go bankrupt," Ruan said.

"Wang volunteered to help me. He discovered the cause of the disease and cured it."

Ruan eventually developed the business into a large farm with an annual output of 50 million yuan.

"He refused money for consultation. In his later years, he always offered help when I turned to him," Ruan said.

Lin Jinfa, a farmer in Wenling, Zhejiang, regarded Wang as a reliable troubleshooter.

"On Lunar New Years' Eve in 2012, many pigs suddenly died on our farm," he said. "I didn't know who I could count on. But I couldn't wait and let the epidemic spread. Wang is the master in this field, I had to call him for help," Lin said.

Wang rushed to the farm the next morning. He checked the dead pigs and their surroundings and soon discovered the pathogen causing the problem.

Wang was diagnosed with late-stage gastric cancer in May 2016. He told no one. He used the precious time to complete the reports of all research programs he was responsible for, and reached out to all the farmers to provide some long-range disease prevention plans.

The last thing he asked was for his ashes to be scattered in the field to fertilize the place he loved and was devoted to.

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