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Village 'backbone' works tirelessly to improve people's lives

By MA ZHIPING | Updated: 2017-10-21 08:03

"I just could not rest, as there are 410 households that remain poverty-stricken in my town in the middle of Hainan island," said Yang Fengji, a delegate to the ongoing 19th CPC National Congress.

The 55-year-old Yang, who is from Baisha Li autonomous county in Hainan province, has visited all 58 villages in the town of Da'an, which has a population of around 15,000, hundreds of times since he was promoted to deputy director of the township last year.

"I've been soliciting ideas for local development and trying to find jobs to help those needy households to become comparatively well off next year," said Yang, who is a member of the Li ethnic group, the earliest residents of Hainan island.

Yang, who was honored as a national model worker and a model for national unity in 2015, has been Party branch head of Tianbiao, a village in Da'an, for the past 19 years.

"Yang is our backbone. He has a kind heart, making donations and offering help to the village school and the public from time to time," said Fu Yuqian, who is from a needy household in Tianbiao village.

Village 'backbone' works tirelessly to improve people's lives

Farmers in Tianbiao, which has 237 households, used to make a living by growing sugar cane or rice, earning around 1,000 yuan ($151) annually before Yang was elected as head of the village in 1998.

"I persuaded the villagers to plant rubber trees, because I myself had gained profits from rubber growing while prices of sugar cane were on the decline. And I invited experts on tropical agriculture from Haikou, the capital of Hainan, to train them in skills for growing the trees," said Yang.

In 2007, he guided the farmers to begin a new business approach called "economy under the trees". He set up five farmers' cooperatives to raise pigs, chickens, sheep and geese and to grow medicinal herbs under the rubber trees to further improve farmers' income and to guard against fluctuations in rubber prices.

Now the villagers have 180,000 rubber trees. With a diversified farming structure, their annual per capita income reached around 9,000 yuan last year, a level much higher than in other villages.

Thanks to Yang's faith and perseverance, Tianbiao is taking on a brand-new look, with all villagers having new, clean and spacious homes, beautiful yards and well-built roads.

"With Yang as the 'bellwether', the villagers feel very much at ease," said Huang Youchuan, deputy head of the village Party branch, who has worked with Yang for 19 years.

Yang Xiuhui, Yang's daughter, said: "Whenever a villager calls him, he'll instantly offer help, no matter what he is doing. As a father of three children, he loves us, but has spent very little time with us because he is busy with village affairs."

Her father said, "As a grassroots representative, I will express local people's expectations on Baisha's social and economic development, such as further protection of the ecological system, inheriting ... of the Li culture and sustainable measures to encourage young talent to stay for a more prosperous Baisha."


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