Life has improved since the regulation was introduced
T64, from Tangyue village, Anshun city
wo years ago, my family of six still depended on dibao (a government poverty-alleviation program that guarantees people a minimum standard of living) to survive. Life was diffi- cult and tiring then. But I wasn’t worried about the hardships I had to endure; instead, I was concerned about the sudden rise in the number of banquets.
Though poverty-stricken, I had to give a cash gift of at least 50 yuan ($7.50) at each banquet. I raised chickens, but I never killed them for food and ate very few of the eggs they laid because I wanted to sell them. I also sold home- grown vegetables. Sometimes, the money I made from selling my goods was not even enough for one cash gift. When banquets came frequently, I had to sell pigs and cows to survive, but that still wasn’t enough. Even though I received a government subsidy, I could only make several thousand yuan a year, but one year I handed out about 15,000 yuan in cash gifts.
I was really under pressure when my nephew got married because he had previously given my family a gift of 1,000 yuan, and it was time to return the money. My only son was working outside our hometown and he didn’t make much, so I was reluctant to ask him for help. I asked friends and relatives for loans, but they refused. As an uncle, I was duty bound to attend the wedding banquet, so as it drew nearer I racked my brains and finally found a “disgraceful” solution — to apply for a loan.
At that time, small loans were available to farmers in financial difficulties to buy materials, such as fertilizer. I had no choice, so I obtained a loan of 1,000 yuan.
In 2014, the village committee started to look at ways to change the practice of holding extravagant banquets, and last year, a regulation was passed stipulating that people were only allowed to hold banquets at weddings and funerals. The committee also set limits on how much food could be offered at banquets to avoid waste.
A cooperative was also established. Farmland was collectivized and leased to companies who planted cash crops. I invested my farmland to become a shareholder, and my wife and I also worked for the cooperative. My son returned to our hometown and got a bank loan to buy a truck. In total, my family can now make about 100,000 yuan a year. We are becoming richer and have moved into a two-story house.
Now, thanks to the measures taken by the village committee, we can concentrate on our work without worrying about those tiring banquets. Life is so good now.
Qiu Mingxiang spoke with Yang Jun