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Oxfam celebrates 25 years of improving farmers' lives

(China Daily)

11:04, August 20, 2012

Villager Zhang Zhengcai raises more than 60 geese in his backyard under the guidance of the village development association, established by a Hong Kong-based NGO, Oxfam. (China Daily/Zhang Yue)

Liu Qin from Qiaoshang village in Bijie, Guizhou province, used to live below the poverty line, with an annual per capita income of 500 yuan ($79).

But life has improved for the 40-year-old after a Hong Kong-based NGO, Oxfam, established a "village development association" to help the villagers increase food production.

Liu was the first woman in the village to join the association, which boasts of 14 members now. As her husband suffers from bad health, Liu is the family's sole breadwinner, supporting four school-age children.

"When I first met people from Oxfam, I thought, they look so different from us," Liu recalls. "They came to our houses and fields to teach us to grow maize. They seemed too good to be true. I used to think, why would they help us for nothing in exchange?"

Oxfam introduced a new type of maize that ripens a month earlier than normal corn, making is possible for farmers to reap better earnings because their harvests are marketed earlier.

Liu's income doubled after she started growing the new species of maize, which commands 8 yuan per kilogram compared to the older variety which sells at 4 yuan.

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