Farm initiative lifts Jiangxi people out of poverty

China Daily , October 19, 2020
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An innovative farming-based poverty alleviation campaign in Ganzhou, Jiangxi province, has tasted success.

Under the program, leading vegetable producers and farmers cooperate on a collective basis, to help lift certain households out of poverty.

Local government officials said they would be glad to share details of the program with people keen to learn and implement it elsewhere.

Under this campaign, farmers can transfer their land use rights to the cooperative and receive rental income. Poverty-stricken households can then use several vegetable greenhouses for cultivation, without paying any fees.

Chen Yuying, 58, said she received 330 square meters of greenhouse space at Hebu village, Jiangkou township of Ganzhou, in 2017, mainly for planting eggplants and peppers. Every year since then, she received subsidies of 2,500 yuan ($371) from the local finance department and dividends of more than 2,000 yuan.

"The cooperative provides seeds and technical training, and purchases fertilizer and pesticide for us members," Chen said.

Chen's husband is not able to work because of physical disability. Before planting vegetables, Chen made her living through rice cultivation. But even that was not enough as very little was left for sale after family consumption. After she joined the poverty-alleviation program, her family's annual income increased to around 20,000 yuan.

"When I harvest the eggplants and peppers, the cooperative collects the vegetables and helps us to sell them at a higher price," Chen said.

To support vegetable growers, local authorities has invested 38.39 million yuan of fiscal funds so far, which helped increase the income of every poverty-stricken household by more than 8,000 yuan in 2019, said Zhang Jinglin, a local government official.

In the village of Hebu, which is also called Hantang, Ganzhou Mingchen Agricultural Development Ltd Co was set up. The vegetable planter can harvest 9,500 tons of vegetables per year based on its 60,000 square meters of high-tech intelligent greenhouses and 500,000 square meters of plantations.

Four years ago, the local government allocated 84.2 million yuan to support Ganzhou Mingchen to build infrastructure like an industrial base. Later, it developed this program into an anti-poverty push by creating full-time jobs for poor villagers.

Xu Xiaoyan, 57, joined Ganzhou Mingchen two months ago on a two-month tenure. She works as a planter eight hours on each workday, seven days a week. Xu earns 70 yuan a day, a level of income that is above the poverty line. "This program made me a company staff member instead of a farmer."

People such as Xu are not rare in China, a country that aims to eradicate extreme poverty by this year-end. Agriculture is key to poverty reduction as it can generate long-term employment and increase rural residents' income levels, analysts said.

The Ministry of Finance has resolved to better use government funds earmarked for poverty-eradication goals. It is intent on supporting advanced industries in different regions and stabilizing employment, said Wang Bin, head of the finance department of Jiangxi local government.

Data from the local government's finance department indicated that 101 hitherto poverty-stricken villages in the area are better off now. Local residents' per capita disposable income increased to 11,754 yuan in 2019 from 6,184 yuan in 2014.

The anti-poverty program, which aims to stimulate employment and generate higher incomes by developing farmer cooperatives and investing in agriculture infrastructure and services, has helped drive down the poverty rate to 0.53 percent in 2019 from 14.8 percent in 2014, official data showed.