Rural China gains renewed vitality as economy rebounds
Xinhua 03 Feb 2023, 19:44 GMT+10
BEIJING, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- As the adage goes "The whole year's work depends on a good start in spring," and perhaps few people understand this better than the farmers.
With the Chinese economy recovering rapidly from the shadow of COVID-19, China's vast rural land is thriving with hope and vitality.
ONSET OF NEW FARMING SEASON
Only three days into the week-long Spring Festival holiday, an agricultural company in Baoqing County of Heilongjiang Province already resumed business to a bustling crowd of customers.
Though most of the northernmost province is still covered in snow, farmers have kicked off preparation for the spring ploughing that usually begins in April.
Li Xuewu, a corn and soybean grower in Baoqing, ordered about 30 tonnes of fertilizers from the company as early as last October.
With the guidance of agro-technicians, Li has mastered more effective seedling and fertilization techniques, allowing him to achieve the best harvest of his farming career in 2022.
"I'm full of confidence to do even better this year," said Li.
As China's grain barn with rich black soil, Heilongjiang has topped the country's total grain output chart for 13 consecutive years. The province has set aside 14.5 million hectares for crop planting this year.
Meanwhile, in the southernmost Hainan Province, spring is very much in the air thanks to its tropical weather. While rice seedlings are transplanted in the fields, freshly-picked tropical fruits and winter vegetables are harvested and transported to the rest of the country.
Every other morning, Hong Liangzhong drives a truck loaded with cowpea into a major winter vegetables wholesale market in the Yazhou District of Sanya City. The market attracts more than 140 buyers every farming season from November to early May of the following year.
On Wednesday, Hong harvested 300 kg of cowpea and sold them at 15 yuan (about 2.23 U.S. dollars) per kg at the market.
"I planted 10 mu (about 0.67 hectares) of cowpea this year and the price has been pretty good," said Hong. "If the market remains stable, my net profit will reach 20,000 yuan per mu when picking is done in March."
In the 2022-2023 farming season, Hainan planted nearly 3 million mu of winter vegetables, the majority of which will be sold to nearly 200 Chinese cities outside Hainan.
THRIVING RURAL SPECIALTY INDUSTRIES
The strawberry season has just begun. Outside a strawberry distribution center in Changfeng County of east China's Anhui Province, workers were busy loading neatly stacked strawberry cases onto refrigerated trucks.
"Around the Spring Festival holiday, we sent 150 tonnes of strawberries every day to Guangdong, Zhejiang and some other provinces," said the manager of the trading company which owns the center.
Strawberry growing and related services are recognized as a key pillar of Changfeng's economy, with a planting area of 210,000 mu and an industrial chain involving planting, sorting, distribution, processing, and agritourism, explained Yang Xiaohu, an agricultural official from the county.
The annual output value of the entire industrial chain has reached 10.8 billion yuan, Yang said.
Maying Village in Changfeng County rose above the poverty line in 2016. In an effort to improve the lives of its more than 1,700 residents, the village began developing strawberry picking as a tourism attraction five years ago.
Strawberry picking gardens in Maying, with a combined area of about 50 mu, are serving tourists mainly from the provincial capital Hefei and surrounding areas, according to Wang Yiqiang, head of a local rural tourism cooperative.
"Since the holiday began, the daily visitor flow has reached nearly 500 people," said Wang, adding that the cooperative has also developed creative strawberry-themed products and offers fun-filled tourism activities, such as strawberry planting experience.
SURGE IN RURAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
Workers are in great demand around China amid optimized COVID response, particularly in large coastal cities. But a desire to stay with their families is increasing among rural workers thanks to the progress in rural revitalization.
Just after the Spring Festival holiday ended, a job fair was held in Bowang Town of Ma'anshan City in Anhui, with more than 20 local companies offering over 300 jobs such as machine operators, assemblers and administrative personnel.
"I want to work somewhere closer to home so that I can take better care of my parents and my children," said 31-year-old Wu Rong from a local village.
Due to improved working conditions and pay in enterprises based in rural areas, many job-seekers come from neighboring locations like Wu. "People have realized that more and more development opportunities are sprouting from the rural land," said Li Mei, HR manager of Anhui Hualing Kitchen Equipment Co., Ltd.
Held both offline and through livestreaming, the one-day fair saw more than 200 jobseekers find their respective new employers, according to Cao Shipeng, who works with the local employment center.
"We plan to hold more job fairs in the form of caravan tours to more local villages and towns to meet the needs of more enterprises and workers based in rural areas," Cao said.