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Raspberry farming, tourism transform rural communities in Qinghai province by Huang Sicheng,March 17, 2021 Adjust font size:

Groves of species such as Chinese red pine and dragon spruce gradually appear along the sides of the road when making the 16-km journey west from the seat of Huangyuan county, Xining city, Qinghai province, to Qiangou village. The hamlet’s residents have been busy engaging in updated forms of arboriculture and other types of agriculture and developing its tourism industry in recent years in order to escape from poverty and increase their incomes.

“We found that the crops that were being farmed in Qiangou had low yields, were not necessarily aligned with the market, and had little tolerance to risk when an industry-oriented poverty alleviation campaign was launched,” Zhao Xuebin, the village’s first secretary,noted recently.

Qiangou’s inhabitants eventually began growing plants used in traditional Tibetan medicine (TTM) and other traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), such as Chinese Angelica and Mongolian milkvetch, as well as high-quality varieties of raspberries, pteridophytes, and various species of trees in order to address these problems and optimize its agricultural structure.

Several years ago, the Huangyuan government began offering training related to the cultivation of plants used in TCM to Qiangou’s farmers. Fifty-six-year-old Wang Lu engaged in traditional agriculture and lived in poverty for much of his life until he got involved with the village’s updated agricultural projects. He gradually learned new farming and marketing techniques and began participating in the development of the hamlet’s Chinese Angelica industry, which made it possible for him to escape from poverty in 2017. The Qiangou native has been steadily increasing his income and earned 8,000 yuan (US$1,239) from the 0.33 ha of Angelica that he grew in 2020.

“I was worried that I wouldn’t be good at cultivating these kinds of crops at first,” Wang mentioned while holding a certificate that he earned after completing a modern agriculture training program that the county offered. “I was a skilled grain farmer, but I didn’t really understand how to grow plants that are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Now I have a good grasp of how to grow Chinese Angelica. I know when to apply plastic ground covering and plant the crop and how to fertilize it properly.”

Qiangou’s residents began growing raspberries in 2009 and developed an indissoluble bond with the fruit. The Qinghai Raspberry Agricultural Co. Ltd. was eventually founded in 2011 with the support of local authorities in order to expand the undertaking, and Wang and his wife, Ma Changfang, began leasing 0.53 ha of their land to the company.

In 2016, the Qinghai Raspberry Agricultural Co. devised and implemented apoverty reduction scheme, began leasing land from Qiangou’s residents in order to conduct and expand its operations and help them generate more income, established a 41.7-ha raspberry and sapling cultivation base in the village, and started issuing a minimum of 1,000 yuan (US$143) of dividends per year to every impoverished household in the hamlet for the next four years. The organization’s employees currently cultivate more than 433 ha of farmland, 95 percent of which is owned by Qiangou’s inhabitants, and 30 percent of the net profit that a special 0.33-ha plot of land generates has been distributed to households that are still living in poverty since 2020.

 “We lease our land to the Qinghai Raspberry Agricultural Co. for 7,500 yuan (US$1,161) per ha per year,” Ma stated. “I also receive wages for the work that I do at its farm and am issued dividends when harvest season is over.”

Ma remarked that the fruit has made it possible for Qiangou natives to increase their incomes without having to leave the village and explained that wooden walkways, artificial lakes, and raspberry-themed hotels have been constructed to facilitate pick-your-own harvesting and other forms of recreation and relaxation.

Qiangou’s transformation has led to the creation of a total of 800 new jobs in the raspberry and rural tourism industries in six additional villages in the area as well. Life has improved in this corner of western Huangyuan and the people who live there have become much more prosperous by participating in the undertakings.

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