Left be­hind, but not for­got­ten

China Daily (USA) - - CHINA - By ZHANG ZHIHAO

One of the draw­backs of mass ur­ban­iza­tion is the is­sue of those left be­hind. Mi­grant work­ers are sep­a­rated from their fam­i­lies for long pe­ri­ods, which re­sults in vil­lages full of unat­tended chil­dren and se­niors.

To counter this, the La­bor Ser­vice Co­op­er­a­tion Ini­tia­tive em­pha­sized a so­lu­tion: de­vel­op­ing lo­cal en­ter­prises sowork­ers could find sta­ble em­ploy­ment near their homes.

To em­pha­size pre­ci­sion poverty re­lief, the en­ter­prises have to take ad­van­tage of their unique en­vi­ron­men­tal and la­bor con­di­tions, turn­ing dis­ad­van­tages into strengths.

In the past five years, droughts have con­sis­tently rav­aged Yunxi county, Hubei prov­ince, dev­as­tat­ing its cash crop in­dus­try. How­ever, the county has per­fect con­di­tions for the cul­ti­va­tion of tie sao zhu, also known as “iron broom”, a drought re­sis­tant plant used to make brooms.

Last year, Hu Chaozhu, the owner of a broom-mak­ing com­pany, took a loan of 100,000 yuan ($67,000) from the lo­cal gov­ern­ment to form the Hengda Broom Spe­cial­ized Co­op­er­a­tive.

For Hu, the de­ci­sion made per­fect eco­nomic sense. “I out­source the plan­ta­tion to lo­cal farm­ers and buy the raw­ma­te­ri­als from them,” he said. “This saves me so much in terms of plant­ing and trans­porta­tion costs that I could still make a profit even if I paid slightly more than the mar­ket price.”

Since mak­ing brooms re­quires no ad­vanced skills, Hu hashired­more300lo­cal left-be­hind women, se­niors and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties. “There is no quota. The more you make, the more you earn,” he said.

Jia Rong­shan, a 52-year-old man­with con­gen­i­tal kypho­sis, a se­vere spinal de­for­mity, ex­pects to make 8,000 yuan by the end of the year, nearly twice the of­fi­cial provin­cial poverty level of 4,100 yuan. Wang Ji­axue, a dis­abled 46-year-old, will make 14,000 yuan from man­ual la­bor and sell­ing raw­ma­te­ri­als.

A sim­i­lar story oc­curred in Aikou, a vil­lage in Hu­nan’s Xiangxi Tu­jia-Miao au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture. Al­though its moun­tain­ous lo­ca­tion means there is lit­tle space for largescale agri­cul­ture or man­u­fac­tur­ing, its clear air and clean wa­ter make the vil­lage an ideal spot for tea plan­ta­tions.

In 2009, the first Aikou Vil­lage Spe­cial­ized Tea Co­op­er­a­tive was es­tab­lished. Through pro­fes­sional train­ing and col­lec­tive man­age­ment, the co­op­er­a­tive has flour­ished and helped lo­cal peo­ple find a route out of poverty.

Zhang Cai­hong is one of them. The 54-year-old now owns 1.2 hectares of tea plan­ta­tions and earns more than 54,000 yuan a year, enough to put his son through Jimei Univer­sity in Xi­a­men, Fu­jian prov­ince. “My days of poverty are over,” he said.

Last year, the co­op­er­a­tive re­ceived a grant of 4.46 mil­lion yuan from the trea­sury and of­fice of poverty al­le­vi­a­tion in Jishou, the cap­i­tal of Xiangxi, to jump-start a 37.5-hectare tea plan­ta­tion de­signed to raise the liv­ing stan­dards of 280 des­ig­nated “im­pov­er­ished” work­ers. In ad­di­tion, the co­op­er­a­tive hires more than 200 tem­po­rary work­ers for 150 days every year, with each worker earn­ing 12,000 yuan.

Wang Lupu, deputy di­rec­tor of theHu­nanad­min­is­tra­tion of em­ploy­ment ser­vices, said the busi­nesses best suited to poverty al­le­vi­a­tion are those that em­ploy large lo­cal man­ual la­bor forces to cre­ate a unique and mar­ketable prod­uct.

Zhang Cai­hong, a tea plan­ta­tion owner, trims tea bushes in the Xiangxi Tu­jia-Miao au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture, Hu­nan prov­ince.

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