'New farmers' contribute to rural revitalization in Ya'an, SW China's Sichuan

(People's Daily Online) 14:54, December 20, 2023

As China advances rural revitalization across the country, more and more young people have deeply embedded themselves in the countryside and become "new farmers."

In Ya'an city of southwest China's Sichuan Province, "new farmers," a term that includes resident officials sent to villages to solve local problems, agricultural managers who assume managerial roles in agricultural cooperatives, and e-commerce livestreamers who help farmers sell products, have promoted the efficiency and quality of the agricultural sector. They have also made rural areas suitable for living and working in and ensured that farmers are affluent and well-off.

People harvest apples in Hanyuan county, Ya'an city, southwest China's Sichuan Province. (Photo/Song Haoxin, Hao Liyi)

Bi Han, a post-95 official with the publicity department of the Communist Party of China Ya'an municipal committee, applied to serve as a resident official in Wannian village, Longcanggou township in the city in June 2021.

Over 80 percent of the small village's land is located in mid-high mountain areas. When China's Giant Panda National Park was officially established in October 2021, Wannian village, with a forest coverage rate of more than 90 percent, became the first village at the park’s south entrance.

As a "new farmer," Bi had worked for more than 700 days and nights in Wannian village before leaving his post in August this year.

Bi witnessed how the small village seized the development opportunity brought by the construction of the Giant Panda National Park to pursue green development based on its sound ecology. The village's collective economic income increased from 238,600 yuan (about $33,686) in 2021 to 537,000 yuan in 2022.

When Bi left Wannian on Aug. 31, he told his successor Hua Weiyu that the village should continue to build a sound ecological environment and promote the brand building of bamboo shoots.

During an overlap of more than half a month, Bi helped Hua learn about the village's industries and visit all the 51 previously impoverished households.

To help resident officials who have been newly sent to villages take on new roles as soon as possible, Ya'an has established an inter-generational mentoring mechanism.

At present, Ya'an has honored seven provincial-level exemplary towns and townships as well as 49 demonstration villages for rural revitalization.

Ren Sumao, 30, is an agricultural manager in Hanyuan county of Ya'an and has over 10 years of experience in planting.

Ren was a member of a technology service team established by the county under the guidance of Gong Ronggao, a professor from Sichuan Agricultural University, to solve problems faced by the local sweet cherry industry in 2015, including yield failure, unstable quality, and low prices.

The same year, Ren was elected as head of a planting and breeding cooperative established in Chenhe village, the major producing area for sweet cherries in the county.

"From 2016 to 2018, I focused on one thing - improving the quality and efficiency of sweet cherries," Ren recalled. In order to achieve that, Ren conducted experiments, asked Professor Gong for advice, and improved planting methods.

He formulated strict specifications for pruning, artificial pollination, bagging, application of organic fertilizers and other processes in the cultivation of sweet cherry trees. As a result, their selling price increased by 50 percent.

At the local government’s recommendation, Ren went to Sichuan Agricultural University for training and passed the exam to become a certified agricultural manager.

Since 2018, Ren has shifted his focus to the circulation of fruits and made efforts to empower agriculture and ensure a smooth supply chain via the internet.

Ren has participated in training classes for agricultural managers and talent training programs for rural revitalization, among others, gaining knowledge in business management, marketing, finance, policies and regulations while bringing back more advanced management experience to the county.

Last year, Ren proposed the establishment of an agricultural association and an engineering machinery association in the county, breaking down barriers in fields such as sales, technology and machinery, enabling the county's sweet cherry industry to grow stronger, and helping fruit farmers increase incomes.

Born after 1985, a woman in Jiuxiang township of Hanyuan county has become a capable livestreamer.

After graduating from college, she returned to her hometown and registered an account under the name "Ran Keqi" on a social media platform.

She and her husband have posted short videos on rural life on the platform, attracting a large number of followers.

"One of our videos garnered over 100 million views and 1.56 million likes. And our account gained a peak number of 2.19 million followers," she said.

"During my first livestreaming session, 500 orders of cherries were placed in just three minutes," she recalled.

Every day, over 200 people, including many of the township’s stay-at-home mothers, work in her warehouse. She also collaborates with the county's vocational high school to offer free e-commerce training courses, in the hope of turning more young people into "new farmers."

Today, more and more e-commerce livestreamers have helped boost rural revitalization in Ya'an.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Liang Jun)


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