Grassroots lawmaker uses technology to empower eco-agriculture

(Xinhua) 08:26, March 04, 2024

BEIJING, March 3 (Xinhua) -- At the sight of the scientific facilities such as water quality monitoring laboratories and photobioreactors, all set beside a swath of farmland, not many people would associate them with farming.

The tech-empowered fields, spanning more than 130 hectares in the city of Chibi, central China's Hubei Province, have been reshaped into an eco-agricultural base after years of continuous efforts by Tian Shuxian, a farmer with a master's degree and grassroots lawmaker.

Tian, 35, was elected as a deputy to the 14th National People's Congress (NPC) in 2023. Using her agricultural and technological knowledge, she has led locals to prosperity by working to develop modern eco-agriculture.

Tian grew up in the countryside and decided to dedicate herself to farming when she was in high school. She majored in biotechnology as an undergraduate and later completed a master's degree in fishing science.

"I chose my major to prepare for farming," she said.

After working at an IT company in east China's Zhejiang Province for two years, she left the booming internet industry in 2017 and returned to her hometown of Anfeng Village to begin a career of raising crayfish.

Some locals had already been raising crayfish, but their production faced the bottlenecks of low output and low quality. Determined to make a change, Tian established a laboratory right next to her contracted field, monitoring water conditions and improving forage.

Utilizing her knowledge of aquatic bait science, she was successful in improving water quality and refining the feeding system, earning more than 10,000 yuan (about 1,390 U.S. dollars) in one breeding season.

Profits were not all that Tian pursued. After every fishing season, locals used to pour pesticides into the water, which Tian knew polluted the water and the soil.

To solve these environmental problems, Tian developed a comprehensive, eco-friendly farming model to raise crayfish and ducks together in rice paddies, wherein ducks feed on the remaining crayfish and fertilize rice with their feces.

The new model proved successful, and an increasing number of locals began to follow it. In 2018, Tian established a specialized, eco-friendly crayfish-raising cooperative, which currently has 226 members and is estimated to generate a total output value of 8 million yuan this year.

After she was elected as an NPC deputy, Tian made two suggestions related to promoting agricultural informatization and strengthening the protection of plowlands.

She also plans to introduce a new agricultural model that integrates crayfish raising, rice planting and eel breeding this year, and promised to offer door-to-door technical guidance and assistance to locals.

"She has been leading us to do things together. We trust her, as she really works for the benefit of us all," said villager Chen Honghu.

Tian has also helped local farmers expand their sales channels through online stores and livestreaming. "In the past, farming depended on the elderly in the village. But now, with Tian's efforts, more young people are willing to return," said Luo Jinhe, then Party chief of Anfeng Village.

For the upcoming annual session of the NPC, Tian has prepared a suggestion on supporting an integrated rice planting and aquaculture farming model to help advance rural revitalization and promote low-carbon agricultural development.

"This model can reduce production input and cut carbon emissions," Tian said. "With improved industries and environment, people will live better lives and the countryside will become more beautiful."

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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