Co­op­er­a­tion im­proves ru­ral lives

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By HOU LIQIANG and HU MEI­DONG

In 2001, when Jiewen vil­lage in Wup­ing county, Fu­jian prov­ince, re­formed the own­er­ship of lo­cal forestry as­sets, Xie Xian­grong’s fam­ily of six was al­lo­cated more than 30 hectares of wood­land.

Be­fore his death in 2013, Xie’s fa­ther had been ill with var­i­ous ail­ments for al­most 20 years and his mother has se­nile de­men­tia, so nei­ther could work. That left the fam­ily heav­ily in debt, and it was 14 years be­fore the as­sets they had been al­lo­cated be­gan to gen­er­ate an in­come.

In 2009, Xie be­gan to build a new house to re­place his di­lap­i­dated home, but a lack of funds meant it took three years to build the two-story house, which was dec­o­rated last year.

The fam­ily only be­gan to ben­e­fit from their forestry as­sets in 2015, af­ter they were given a log­ging per­mit that al­lowed them to fell some of their trees, bring­ing in 80,000 yuan ($11,750).

As forestry-re­lated busi­nesses de­velop in the prov­ince, more poverty-stricken fam­i­lies are see­ing their liv­ing stan­dards rise.

In 2015, hav­ing se­cured an in­ter­est-free loan of 30,000 yuan with the help of the lo­cal gov­ern­ment, Xie, 42, set up 60 bee­hives.

Last year, he planted al­most 3 hectares of sar­can­dra glabra, an aro­matic herb used in tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine, with the aid of a co­op­er­a­tive the gov­ern­ment helped to es­tab­lish in the vil­lage that pro­vided about 60 per­cent of the 22,500 yuan Xie re­quired to plant each hectare.

“We knew noth­ing about the plant, so the co­op­er­a­tive or­ga­nized train­ing. We don’t even have to worry about sell­ing our pro­duce be­cause the co­op­er­a­tive is re­spon­si­ble for that,” he said.

Zhong Taifu, Party chief of Jiewen and also di­rec­tor of the co­op­er­a­tive, said 102 of the 164 fam­i­lies in the vil­lage have joined the co­op­er­a­tive, which en­cour­ages res­i­dents to plant TCM herbs and de­velop economies of scale.

Last year, the rev­enue gen­er­ated by forestry-re­lated busi­nesses, in­clud­ing bee­keep­ing, plant nurs­eries and TCM herbs, was 25 mil­lion yuan, ac­cord­ing to the vil­lage com­mit­tee. The per capita net in­come has risen from 1,600 yuan in 2001 to 13,510 yuan, 45 per­cent of which comes from forestry-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties.

Be­fore, when Xie worked in con­struc­tion and tended 0.5 hectares of farm­land, he could barely make 5,000 yuan a year: “Now I can make 40,000 to 50,000 yuan a year from bee­keep­ing, in ad­di­tion to my other work. With­out the gov­ern­ment sub­sidy, it would be al­most im­pos­si­ble for me to make so much money.”

He plans to cul­ti­vate more TCM herbs and has also planted a num­ber of or­ange trees.

Zhong said the vil­lagers will re­ceive a sub­sidy for plant­ing or­ange trees, but the de­tails of the pro­gram have yet to be un­veiled.

Xie’s fam­ily is just one of thou­sands in Wup­ing who are rais­ing their liv­ing stan­dards via these ac­tiv­i­ties. The de­vel­op­ment of the forestry-re­lated econ­omy and other in­dus­tries have seen 9,352, or 57 per­cent, of the county’s 21,873 im­pov­er­ished res­i­dents lifted out of poverty in the past three years, ac­cord­ing to the county gov­ern­ment.

Xu Ruhui, di­rec­tor of the forestry own­er­ship re­form of­fice at the Fu­jian Forestry Ad­min­is­tra­tion, said that since 2015, the provin­cial gov­ern­ment has al­lo­cated 70 mil­lion yuan an­nu­ally to sub­si­dize the de­vel­op­ment of the forestry-re­lated econ­omy, with funds al­lo­cated to coun­ties ac­cord­ing to the area un­der pro­tec­tion, and poverty-stricken coun­ties are given pri­or­ity.

Xie Xian­grong

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