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To help the poor, motivate them first: poverty alleviation stories in south China's Hainan (3)

By Liu Ning, Sheng Chuyi, Li Yan, Jeffrey Moeller (People's Daily Online)    16:56, June 06, 2019

The island's unique industry-oriented efforts

"When I was young, I was penniless, just like those living in poverty today. Life was very hard. I told myself I should study and work hard to change my life," said Xu Yongmei, founder and chairwoman of Hainan Tiandiren Ecological Agriculture, a company which focuses on tropical fruit plantations and crops.

Xu Yongmei, founder and chairwoman of Hainan Tiandiren Ecological Agriculture, is interviewed by People's Daily Online. (People's Daily Online/Ji Zihui)

From the initial 50 mu (about 3.3 hectares) to the current 25,000 mu (1,666.7 hectares), Xu Yongmei has deeply integrated her business operations with the needs of local people living in poverty.

We met Xu Yongmei in farmland filled with rippling green dragon fruit leaves in Lingao County, northern Hainan, about 90 kilometers west of Haikou, Hainan's capital. Xu recalled the early days when she started up her business.

"Lingao County, the first place we started from, is a national level poor county. The living situation was left far behind," Xu said. 

Xu Yongmei speaks with People's Daily Online at one of her largest banana plantations. (People's Daily Online/Ji Zihui)

Xu told us that in the past, restricted by traditional thinking, habitual labor practices, and lack of information, poor households only planted out-of-date varieties, using unscientific cultivation methods. "We provide our varieties, technologies, management, and branding to help them move into modern agriculture with us," Xu noted.

"We train them on how to plant and understand the theory. Through education, farmers will know how to run the business by themselves, which is the most important thing for our training," Xu added.

Locals also entrust Xu with their poverty relief funds or their farmland as an investment in her business. In return, they receive bonuses from her business profits. By doing so, Xu has helped lift 3,801 people from 858 households out of poverty so far.

Wang Hai is one of these people. He started working for her company 19 years ago, first heading security. By gradually learning the plantation techniques, he is now in charge of a large banana plantation base spanning 1,000 mu in Lingao County. He bought his own house and car, with a pretty satisfactory yearly income.

"I still remember the first time I went to his house. His whole family was sharing one bed. I told myself I must help them," said Xu Yongmei.

"Nearly 20 years ago, I hardly made 100 yuan a month. I didn't know where to find a job. The company came to our county to develop, so I got the chance to work. I learned how to use the technology and got promoted. My family lives a better life now," said Wang Hai with a thick Hainan accent.

Hainan, utilizing its tropical agricultural resources, has implemented its unique industry-oriented poverty alleviation efforts with great success.

"When everybody works together, including governments, companies and society, we can better accelerate the poverty alleviation process. We should say thank you to the people. When we work together, we make the industry bigger and bigger. From the beginning, it is our responsibility to help them. Gradually, we benefit mutually," said Xu Yongmei. 


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(Web editor: Sheng Chuyi, Bianji)

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