Cray­fish col­lege to add fla­vor to growth in­dus­try

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By MA CHI machi@chi­

Empty-handed tourists find it chal­leng­ing to trek the moun­tain path from the Jieyin­dian ca­ble car sta­tion to the Golden Sum­mit of Emei Moun­tain in Sichuan prov­ince.

The sta­tion and sum­mit are 2,540 and 3,077 me­ters above sea level re­spec­tively.

How­ever, Deng Sh­u­fang, 42, has to carry build­ing ma­te­ri­als such as ce­ment, sand, steel and bricks from the sta­tion to the sum­mit 12 times a day.

Each trip, she car­ries a bam­boo bas­ket with 100 kilo­grams of build­ing ma­te­ri­als on her back, earn­ing 24 yuan ($3.50).

Deng, a farmer in Hu­a­tou town in Ji­a­jiang county, Sichuan, used to plant tea and crops, and could carry be­tween 50 and 100 kg of grain in one go.

Be­cause of her strength, a fel­low vil­lager in­tro­duced her to Emei Moun­tain in the sec­ond half of last year when a mam­moth re­con­struc­tion project started at the sum­mit.

The project, sched­uled to be com­pleted in 2019, will in­volve the build­ing of a hall of the God­dess of Mercy, known as Guanyin in Chi­nese. A large amount of build­ing ma­te­ri­als have to be car­ried to the sum­mit, said Wu Jian, a mem­ber of the ad­min­is­tra­tive com­mit­tee of Emei Moun­tain.

Be­fore his re­cent re­tire­ment, Wu was an in­for­ma­tion of­fi­cer with the com­mit­tee.

Af­ter build­ing ma­te­ri­als are trans­ported to the Jieyin­dian ca­ble car sta­tion, they have to be taken an­other 1 km to the site of the re­con­struc­tion project on the sum­mit.

There are about 200 la­bor- ers ages 20 to 60 who carry build­ing ma­te­ri­als to the sum­mit and live in dor­mi­to­ries at the site.

“What is un­usual about Deng is that she is fe­male, but can carry more than most of the men,” Wu said.

Life is te­dious for Deng and fel­low work­ers, but she is sat­is­fied be­cause of the money she can make. “I need money to sup­port my son, who will soon en­ter sec­ond grade at mid­dle school,” Deng said.

Be­cause of the rel­a­tively high in­come, her hus­band has also joined her in car­ry­ing build­ing ma­te­ri­als to the sum­mit.

Their vil­lage is not far away from Emei Moun­tain.

But the cou­ple had never vis­ited the sa­cred Bud­dhist site, which was in­cluded in the UNESCO World Nat­u­ral and Cul­tural Her­itage List in 1996, be­fore they started work­ing on it.

Emei is a po­etic term for “beau­ti­ful women” in Chi­nese. Spread over 154 square kilo­me­ters, the moun­tain of­fers a panoramic view of the land­scape through­out the year.

The cou­ple are happy to be able to work on the pic­turesque moun­tain, which many peo­ple are un­able to have the joy of vis­it­ing.

Af­ter their son’s sum­mer va­ca­tion started in early July, they took him to the moun­tain so he could ex­pe­ri­ence the stun­ning scenery.

With a cane to sup­port her body, bur­dened with a bam­boo bas­ket­ful of build­ing ma­te­ri­als, Deng has to take a rest ev­ery two or three min­utes on the moun­tain path.

Moved by her hard­ship and de­ter­mi­na­tion to sup­port her fam­ily, some tourists of­fer her water, snacks and nap­kins to wipe away her sweat.

“It feels good to earn the re­spect of strangers through my hard work,” she said.

Cray­fish, a pop­u­lar snack in China, has spawned a new pro­fes­sional in­dus­try, with an oc­cu­pa­tional school in Hubei prov­ince set to train stu­dents in all aspects of the crus­tacean, thep­a­ re­ported.

The Jiang­han Art Vo­ca­tional Col­lege in Qian­jiang has en­rolled 86 stu­dents in cray­fish-re­lated ma­jors. From the fall se­mes­ter, stu­dents will study two- or three-year cour­ses on cater­ing man­age­ment, mar­ket­ing, and cook­ing and nu­tri­tion.

The city is one of the ma­jor pro­duc­ers of cray­fish in China. Cook­ing and ex­port­ing the fresh­wa­ter crus­tacean is a main source of in­come for farm­ers.

In May 2016, the col­lege set up a cray­fish school, the only one of its kind in China, as the city aimed to boost the in­dus­try by cul­ti­vat­ing more cray­fish breed­ers and chefs as well as open­ing more cray­fish restau­rants.

“De­spite the rapid growth of the cray­fish in­dus­try, man­age­rial pro­fes­sion­als are still in short­age,” said Xia Zhizhong, a re­cruit­ment of­fi­cer at the school.

China is the world’s largest cray­fish pro­ducer. By mid2016, the num­ber of restau­rants sell­ing cray­fish reached nearly 18,000, three times the num­ber of KFC out­lets in China.

Deng uses a cane to prop up the load she is car­ry­ing while tak­ing a short break on the moun­tain path. Deng shares snacks given to her by tourists with her fel­low work­ers.

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