Aware­ness by up­stream res­i­dents pays div­i­dends

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By PEI PEI

The rise of en­vi­ron­men­tal aware­ness among in­hab­i­tants of ar­eas along the up­per trib­u­taries of the Xin’an River — peo­ple like fish farmer Hu Chengjiu — is be­lieved to be the crux of sus­tain­ing the en­tire eco­log­i­cal pro­gram along the main chan­nel.

Huang­shan city built garbage dis­posal sta­tions in every vil­lage along the river. Nearly 3,000 res­i­dents are em­ployed as sweep­ers of pub­lic sites in the ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties.

In some com­mu­ni­ties, there’s even a garbage ex­change su­per­mar­ket — for in­stance, 20 pes­ti­cide bot­tles can be ex­changed for a packet of salt.

“These things are bad for the soil. We chose them to ex­change for life ne­ces­si­ties at the su­per­mar­ket. It kills two birds with one stone,” said Yu Fengqing, who is in her 60s and trav­eled many kilo­me­ters to ex­change a sack of pes­ti­cide pack­ages and bot­tles at the Liukou town­ship su­per­mar­ket.

In 2015, Huang­shan be­gan pur­chas­ing low-tox­i­c­ity pes­ti­cides col­lec­tively for farm­ers, and the farm­ers are en­cour­aged to buy the care­fully cho­sen chem­i­cals di­rectly from the govern­ment.

“In the sys­tem, there are 65 types of pes­ti­cides, among which 45 are of low tox­i­c­ity and residue. The other 20 are bi­o­log­i­cal pes­ti­cides,” said Bao Zhoum­ing, a se­nior agron­o­mist in Huang­shan’s agri­cul­tural ad­min­is­tra­tive com­mis­sion. “It not only cuts farm­ers’ costs of pur­chas­ing pes­ti­cides but also en­sures the qual­ity and safety of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts and the river’s wa­ter.”

The city is also work­ing on a plan to im­ple­ment a unified pur­chas­ing and sup­ply sys­tem for chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers, Bao said.

In Xi­un­ing county, where Hu lives, more than 3,600 fam­i­lies op­er­ate 5,000 spring-wa­ter fish­ponds us­ing tra­di­tional lo­cal fish-farm­ing meth­ods dat­ing to the Song Dy­nasty (960-1279). It stresses clean wa­ter and or­ganic feed­ing.

The vil­lagers said the preser­va­tion of the Xin’an River re­vives their time-hon­ored meth­ods. Ac­cord­ing to Wang Zhongyu, head of the county govern­ment’s poverty al­le­vi­a­tion of­fice, more than 560 poverty-stricken fam­i­lies in Xi­un­ing ran the fish­ponds last year. It took only a year for half of them to bid farewell to poverty be­cause of the prof­itabil­ity of fish raised in spring wa­ter. The fish are pop­u­lar with tourists.

Tea grow­ing is an­other source of rev­enue for the vil­lagers.

More than 100,000 farm­ers are en­gaged in in­dus­tries cater­ing to tourism in 188 vil­lages, which re­ceived more than 37.2 mil­lion tourist trips last year, more than 70 per­cent of the to­tal of the city. An­nual ru­ral tourism rev­enue gen­er­ated was 26.3 bil­lion yuan ($3.9 bil­lion).

The res­i­dents are con­fi­dent their way of de­vel­op­ment, which strikes a bal­ance be­tween ecol­ogy and econ­omy, is not only sus­tain­able but also trans­plantable to other places.


Peo­ple col­lect trash in the up­per reaches of the Xin’an River in Huang­shan, An­hui province.

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