Rural Hunan: one year after China eradicated extreme poverty
By Guillermo Benavides
Changsha, China, Aug 12 (EFE).- A year after China declared victory on ending extreme poverty, rural and agricultural areas have been the main beneficiaries of president Xi Jinping’s policy, according to the people of Dingsheng, in the central province of Hunan.
The small village of 223 farmers seeks to be an example of rural revitalization projects after the local community carried out sanitation, organization and ecological improvements.
“We began to rehabilitate the area last year,” says Li Guocheng, a local farmer, adding that the direct sale of harvested local products that are marketed via QR codes without middlemen has been a great success.
LEARNING FROM MISTAKES
Changsha, the provincial capital, is home to one of China’s four prestigious imperial schools, the Yuelu Academy, and its motto ‘Seeking truth from facts’ has been adopted by China’s ruling Communist Party and underpinned rural revitalization policies.
Several local officials in Hunan have said that although Xi declared victory on extreme poverty in 2021, there is still work to be done.
After 18,000 towns were lifted out of poverty, according to official figures, bespoke assistance over the next five years was needed to reinforce the measures implemented to date, officials say.
To identify needs, a scoring system for villages has been designed that both tracks the development of the localities and whether they are complying with sanitation requirements which can see towns lose subsidies for failing to “clean streets”, according to local officials.
Hunan is the second largest producer of rice in the country, and the home to hybrid rice — a product that has shone a light on the galvanizing power of technology in agriculture — which is exported to 20 countries.
In the town of Longwangmiao, where 80% of agricultural production is mechanized, an effort to glean the benefits of tech advances in 20 hectares of the total 2.41 million in the region has been made.
Biological pesticides, rice seed hybrids to make them more resilient, smart channels that allow “irrigation in drought and drainage in floods” and state-of-the-art traps to attract insects that can damage crops are just some of the strategies that have been adopted.
Other products, besides rice, have also flourished in recent years, such as different varieties of peppers in a region that is well known for loving a bit of spice.
As well as making peppers hotter for research purposes, experts have managed to increase production from 15 tons per hectare to 26 tons in just five years.
“In the last two or three years, many peasants have been able to buy houses in the cities,” Zeng Caiqiang, a party official, told Efe, adding this was a clear sign of success.
The remote villages of Hunan have also sought to attract more tourists in a bid to diversify the economy through agricultural tourism that has so far drawn 2.5 million visitors to the region.
In the town of Qingxi, the birthplace of Chinese writer Zhou Libo, author of ‘Great Changes in a Mountain Village’, the revitalization policies of the rural area have a very clear objective.
Using the novelist as inspiration, authorities want to encourage reading in a village where old houses have been transformed into bookstores that harbor the latest edition of Xi Jinping’s Governance of China.