Village harvests grape expectations for better future
In the vast greenhouse orchards at Wangjiacun village in Cenyang township, Hengfeng county, the grapes are ripe and ready for picking.
The orchards have provided both fruit and a new center of tourism that can attract more visitors.
The village, in Shangrao city, Jiangxi province, is a good example of how the province is looking to tackle poverty by restructuring local economic models.
Despite its beautiful landscape and natural environment, Wangjiacun has long been the poorest village in the township, with an annual per capita net income of around 2,000 yuan ($297.8). In 2013, the local government decided to cultivate orchards and develop ecological tourism to upgrade the village’s economy.
In October 2013, Lyu Haifeng started an agricultural company to develop orchards in Wangjiacun. He wanted the local landowners to become stakeholders in the venture by releasing their land to him for cultivation. However, many were initially reluctant as they were unfamiliar with grape harvesting.
Officials from the township held promotional campaigns to publicize the venture and, as a result, Lyu acquired field space of around 13 hectares from 26 local households in December the same year. He later gained an additional 30 hectares from landowners in nearby villages.
“The orchard business is going well now thanks to the efforts of the local government,” Lyu said.
Last year, net income generated by the grape business was more than 2 million yuan ($300,000), and will reach 2.6 million yuan this year. The number is expected to reach 6 million yuan when cherries and tangerines are harvested next year, according to Lyu.
In addition to cultivating local produce, residents have also opened restaurants and shops, and some have become tour guides.
“From July to October each year, especially when the grapes are ripe, the village attracts a lot of tourists, and my restaurant becomes so busy,” said villager Chen Liangzhu. Chen added that his net income, which was previously below the official 2,000 yuan per year poverty line, has now risen to more than 40,000 yuan a year.
The government of Hengfeng county also encourages e-commerce to help farmers to sell their products.
Last year, work began on plans to develop an e-commerce park, which will be a key county-level project. The park will allow startups to share infrastructure and services, and it has attracted more than 50 companies to date.
Yang Yue from Xinhuang township raised 1 million yuan to start a company in the park selling local specialties. The company generated revenue of more than 2 million yuan in the first five months of this year.
There are also more than 20 companies in the county involved in the logistics, delivery and storage businesses, with more than 200 employees.
The e-commerce sector generated a trade volume of 650 million yuan in the first five months of this year, already equaling last year’s total.
An asparagus farm in Zhongde, Hengfeng county, which is a rural cooperative comprised of 49 households.