Cooperation between village and city boosts rural development

Xinhua, July 25, 2023
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Every weekend, 2,000 or so residents living in nearby cities travel to Tayuanzhuang Village in Zhengding County, north China's Hebei Province, to enjoy leisure time there.

Tang Xiaoying was cheerfully and energetically peddling vegetables, confident that the pesticide-free produce cultivated with intelligent planting technologies tasted good.

In front of an intelligent farm is an automatically-controlled-temperature glass house in which Tang has been working, and where rows of lettuce can be seen growing in water. The 65-year-old villager is already quite skilled at modern hydroponic vegetable planting methods, and she said that the 60-square-meter building can produce approximately 1,000 kg of vegetables a year.

The farm is the result of cooperation between the village and Tongfu Group Co., Ltd, a leading agricultural company.

Zhengding County, since it is separated from the provincial capital city Shijiazhuang by just one river, decided as early as the 1980s to develop its economy based on the demands of the city.

Tayuanzhuang Village, two thirds of which is located on floodplain areas, lacks sufficient land resources. However, the village has taken advantage of its proximity to both the county and provincial capital and adopted the mode of "village-enterprise cooperation" to inject new vitality into its development.

In the past, villagers needed to pedal a cart to transport food and vegetables to the city to sell, while now visitors from the city tend to walk in the fields to pick and gather fresh fruits and vegetables themselves, said Wu Feng, head of Tongfu rural revitalization demonstration park.

Wu added that the intelligent farm also features aquaculture including fish, shrimp and crab breeding and uses bio-organic bacterial fertilizer to improve soil fertility.

Business opportunities are booming. From cultural tourism and varied forms of farming to in-depth agricultural research and other projects, a rural industrial ecosystem has been formed. As of July, the park had received more than 900,000 visits this year.

The village also launched a "shared farm" program in which city dwellers can rent small plots and grow their own food. As large as 90 square meters, these plots were snapped up within one week.

Hu Wenfa, an official with the village, said that from 2013 to 2022, the village's collective income rose from over 4 million yuan (about 556,000 U.S. dollars) to more than 32 million yuan. Villagers receive dividends at the end of the year with their utility charges exempted.

In March this year, eyeing the healthcare needs of urban seniors, Tayuanzhuang, along with six neighbouring villages, reached cooperation agreements with enterprises to kick off the construction of a comprehensive demonstration park integrating the likes of modern agriculture, healthcare, forest economy, and leisure agriculture.

"We want to join hands with others villages and harvest wealth together," said Yin Jiping, Party chief of Tayuanzhuang Village.