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How rural villages attract younger generations back home

By Xian Jiangnan, Gao Ke, Liu Ning, Morag Hobbs,  (People's Daily Online)    15:06, August 01, 2019

Nine years ago, Geng Fujian quit his job in a Shenzhen-based electronics factory to return to his hometown in Shandong province. What attracted him back to Gengdian village near Liaocheng city was a lucrative business opportunity - polytunnel vegetable planting.

Gengdian village was still an economically backward village 20 years ago, gradually emptying as many young villagers flooded into cities to build a better life for themselves.

Over the years, remaining villagers explored potential development models. By building hundreds of polytunnels to grow vegetables, the village is now on the path to prosperity.

Geng Zunzhu (3rd L), Party Secretary of Gengdian Village, talks with young villagers.

"We currently own more than 700 polytunnels, with an average annual income of 60,000 to 70,000 yuan ($8,722 to $10,176). Our villagers are getting richer by the day through the agricultural industry," Geng Zunzhu, Party Secretary of Gengdian, told People's Daily Online.

Advanced technologies have been applied, such as automatic ventilation, automatic roller doors, and fertigation machines. In 2018, each household in Gengdian had an average of 3.5 polytunnels, and the annual per capita net income exceeded 30,000 yuan ($4,358).

"After I came back, my life improved a lot. Now I have five polytunnels, each bringing an annual net income of over 40,000 yuan ($5,815). I have moved to an apartment and have my own car," Geng Fujian said proudly.

In addition to business development, the village has also built up many supporting facilities to improve the well-being of villagers. "Roads have been repaved and facilities including a nursing home and cultural activity center have been built. Young villagers are now willing to come back to live and work here," he added.

The gate of Gengdian Village. Previously an economically backward village, Gengdian is now a model of rural modernization and revitalization.

The development model has boosted the local economy, attracting more young people who had worked elsewhere to come back to start their own businesses. Today, the village is a model of rural modernization and revitalization.

On March 8, 2018, during a panel discussion with the NPC delegation of Shandong province, President Xi Jinping praised the rural revitalization strategy of Gengdian. He hailed it a "little Shouguang city in western Shandong" (Shouguang is a city famous for vegetable planting, located in the north-central part of Shandong province).

The development mode in Gengdian serves as an example for nearby villages, which have started to develop similar paths. "We have improved the living conditions of those in nearby villages, such as improving the toilet and drainage system and constructing roads. Only by attracting people back can we achieve the goal of rural revitalization," said Luo Wei, a member of the Rural Revitalization Service Team in Shandong.

Gengdian now has more than 700 polytunnels, with an average annual income of 60,000 to 70,000 yuan ($8,722 to $10,176).

To better rejuvenate the economy, Gengdian village has pushed agricultural modernization even further. Since 2018, the village has established an e-commerce platform, a vegetable test center, and developed a modern agriculture demonstration park.

"President Xi called on Party members to "remain true to our original aspiration and keep our mission firmly in mind." As Party Secretary, I aspire to lead my villagers to a wealthier life, and my mission is to make our village an example of rural revitalization," Geng said. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)

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