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An ability to succeed

By Wang Ru | China Daily | Updated: 2020-12-16 07:58

Members of Zhang's cooperative pose for a photo after receiving their dividend in 2019.[Photo provided to China Daily]

Zhang Yaping overcame the difficulties of a polio-induced affliction and a tough family situation to not just pull herself out of poverty, but her fellow villagers as well, Wang Ru reports.

Zhang Yaping told her story of fighting against disability-induced poverty at a meeting with journalists organized by the State Council Information Office on Friday. The 32-year-old woman was awarded a poverty-alleviation prize by the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development earlier this year. Despite difficulty walking, she overcame poverty through her own effort, and helped many people around her.

Born in Jone county, Gannan Tibet autonomous prefecture, Gansu province, in 1988, Zhang contracted polio at a young age, which affected her ability to walk. When she was a junior high school student, a traffic accident caused permanent injury to her father's leg. Zhang had to drop out of school to take care of her father and, for several years, continued learning by herself. She was enrolled by a secondary technical school in 2009.

After graduation, she didn't want to leave home, and decided to work in her hometown. "My brother and sister were quite young, and my mother couldn't take care of both of them as well as my disabled father, so I could not go far," says Zhang.

She tried her hand at various jobs, including the role of purchasing agent at a supermarket, but found it difficult because of her leg ailment. She then became aware of some large pieces of vacant farmland in the village and, inspired by other villagers, she decided to grow crops in a large scale.

At first, she rented 20 hectares of farmland, took out a loan of 100,000 yuan ($15,260) and started planting. The highland barley and oats she planted grew well, and she achieved a profit of 60,000 yuan just a year later.

Although she enjoyed a good start to her farming career, she didn't think it was lucrative enough, and she would sometimes worry about her sales channels. As a result, she decided to add an animal husbandry element to the business, with the resting crop being used to feed the livestock. She opened Fengyu husbandry farmers' cooperative in 2016, which has both a farming and an animal husbandry businesses.

"At the beginning, I didn't have enough money or labor, so I went to villagers' homes every day trying to persuade them to join me, as well as exploring every means to collect money. Finally, I persuaded six people in my village to be members of my cooperative, and raised one million yuan (including bank loans) as the initial fund to start the cooperative," says Zhang.

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