Rural vitalization efforts reap big success

Young residents from cities root themselves in agriculture to truly understand the countryside, deeply integrate with villagers

By HUANG ZHILING and PENG CHAO in Chengdu | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-01 09:48
Share - WeChat
A view of the countryside scenery in Tieniu village. [PHOTO/CHINA DAILY]

Common development

Recognizing the benefits of ecological planting, 14 households in the village joined Shi's initiative last year, expanding the area of the ecological orchard to 2.7 hectares.

The first step for ecological planting is to improve the soil, which costs an average of 6,000 yuan per mu. "The villagers only need to spend 2,000 yuan per mu, and we will take care of the rest," said Cheng Xiaoqiong, a researcher on Shi's team.

The tangerines harvested from the ecological orchard are sold by an enterprise set up by the new villagers. "This year, the market price for regular tangerines is only 1 yuan per kilo, but we purchase the ecological ones from the villagers at 2 yuan," she said.

To ensure the villagers' shared prosperity, Shi's team jointly established a village-enterprise consortium with the collective economic cooperative of Tieniu.

"For every kilo of ecological tangerines we sell, 0.6 yuan from the income will go into the account of the consortium, which will benefit all the villagers," Cheng said.

More attempts have been made by Shi and his team to achieve integrated development of agriculture, industry and the service sector in the village.

They have developed a range of products from fresh fruits, such as tangerine jam, dried tangerine, tangerine soda, tangerine wine and canned tangerines.

A series of activities have been planned and organized in the village, including the low-carbon lifestyle festival, the rural life festival, and the tangerine picking festival, bringing in more tourists.

The new villagers have also developed orchard tours and study tour programs, further promoting the development of rural tourism in the village.

"The locally produced goods in the village are directly purchased by tourists. More villagers have started their own farmhouses and homestays, and their businesses are thriving," Xu said.

He said the new villagers have not only brought in methods for industrial development and income generation, but also introduced new lifestyles and living concepts.

In addition to large-scale festive events, the new villagers have organized various forms of educational activities on weekends, such as parent-child lectures, English classes and paper-cutting training, bringing a pleasant change to the village.

"In the past, children in our village had to go to the city for these activities," Xu said.

He said more than a dozen young people have returned home to start their own businesses after seeing the changes in the village.

Reasons to stay

Shi, who is in his 50s, was born and raised in a rural area in Central China's Hunan province. With the support of his parents, he went on to study in a big city, and later pursued further studies in the United States.

"For the first 40 years of my life, I had just one ordinary goal, which was to study hard and see the world outside," he said.

In 2013, while in Shanghai with his family, Shi was invited to plan for the Mingyue village in Pujiang by chance, which reconnected him with China's rural areas.

It was in Mingyue village that Shi first met Xu, who was also a skilled mason. Together with his brother, Xu was leading a rural construction team to help with the transformation and upgrading of the village.

"At that time, I thought, when the conditions are mature, I would also invite Mr Shi to do the planning for Tieniu," he said.

Four years later, with the implementation of the rural vitalization strategy, Xu's wish came true.

Shi said it was only after returning to rural areas that he realized the importance of rural vitalization, and made up his mind to stay in the countryside and contribute to the vitalization of rural areas with his knowledge and efforts.

Shi said people in urban areas are increasingly pursuing a better quality of life as they become wealthier, and the demand for clean water, air, and soil in the countryside, as well as safe food, is growing steadily.

"On the other hand, the heavy work pressure and crowded spaces in cities can easily lead to self-isolation and trigger mental illnesses, while the open natural environment in rural areas makes it easier for people to open up their minds and relax," he added.

Shi said he wants to explore and create a more harmonious, healthy and sustainable way of life for the next generation.

In his view, Mingyue is built upon the foundation of cultural creativity and cultural tourism, aiming to create an ideal lifestyle that combines leisure and travel. Tieniu is, however, much closer to the essence of rural life, where he hopes to create a future lifestyle based on ecological and cultural vitalization.

In September 2020, Shi moved his family to Tieniu. His wife, Zhao Jing, who holds a PhD in biology, later established a community education center in the village.

|<< Previous 1 2 3 4 Next   >>|
Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349