Retirees contribute to Guizhou rural vitalization

By Zhao Zhao, Li Jingya (Xinhua) 10:52, October 27, 2022

GUIYANG, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- Chen Shangju, a 56-year-old agricultural technician, usually begins her day at 5 a.m. working for an agricultural cooperative she established in Bijie City, southwest China's Guizhou Province.

Chen, though retired since 2021, has a full schedule. In the morning, Chen uses her minivan to give farmers a free ride to vegetable fields. During the day, she teaches them planting skills, and sometimes negotiates with incoming purchasers. After driving farmers home, it is often around 10 p.m.

Chen used to be a community agricultural specialist in Bijie. In 2016, supported by the local government, she set up the agricultural cooperative. Many people had to learn vegetable planting skills from Chen, before being able to make a living themselves.

Due to her passion for agriculture and a sense of duty to her fellow farmers, Chen stayed in the business after retirement.

"Sometimes I thought of having some leisure time just like my retired friends," she said. But because of her, farmers receive a stable income of 2,000 to 3,000 yuan (about 280 to 420 U.S. dollars) a month. She couldn't just stop what she was doing.

The cooperative is responsible for the planting and management of more than 4,200 mu (280 hectares) of tea, as well as 300 mu of vegetables including chili peppers and cabbages. A total of 57,000 people have benefited from being employed near their homes over the past six years.

Zhang Shangyun, once an illiterate middle-aged woman, has been working under Chen for six years and has become an executive of the cooperative.

"Chen teaches what she knows about planting without reservation," said Zhang.

Chen is even planning to expand the scale of the cooperative by inviting new stakeholders.

"Many people don't understand why I work so hard in retirement. I believe the real happiness in life is not 'lying flat' or making a lot of money, but being able to take care of more people," said Chen.

In recent years, a total of some 1,700 retired specialists and cadres in Bijie have chosen to spread their valued experience and techniques across various agricultural projects in rural areas.

Sun Yong went back to his hometown in Bijie to set up an agricultural cooperative in 2012.

Due to his lack of experience in planting and management, his 20 mu of grapes did not survive. Sun almost gave up. Fortunately, he met Chen Lieyao, a retired agricultural specialist, at a grape planting training program organized by the local government.

"Chen has worked in the agricultural sector for almost 40 years. He is willing to share his skills with younger generations. Chen, in his 80s, always came to the field to teach me how to plant grapes -- everything from cultivation, fertilization, pruning, bagging to drip irrigation," Sun said.

Sun's cooperative is now capable of generating 200,000 kg of grapes a year, providing dozens of jobs for the surrounding residents.

In Guli town under Qianxi County, more than 100 retired cadres have been mobilized to help farmers with their valued knowledge and skills. Through their efforts, vegetable bases with a planting area of about 300 mu have been set up to produce cherry tomatoes and mushrooms in around 500 greenhouses.

"Retirees have skills and abilities. They are the treasures of our society. We will support them in using their strength to promote rural vitalization and social and economic development," said Chen Jie, director of Bijie's bureau of retired veteran cadres.

(Web editor: Cai Hairuo, Liang Jun)


Related Stories