Miao Woman Helps Villagers Get Rich by Growing Flowers

苗家女的花样人生

Women of China (English) - - WOMEN'S DEVELOPMENT |妇女发展 - ZHANG PU and LI ZHUYUAN 张朴李竹鸢

Mingjiu, a town in Mengzi, capital of Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture, in Southwest China's Yunnan Province, is inhabited by many Miao people. Given its picturesque view and delicious farm foods, the town is a popular tourist destination. If you visit Mingjiu during late summer, you will surely be amazed by the beauty of the blooming marigold flowers in the vast fields. Given their efforts, the local farmers reaped a bumper harvest of flowers this summer.

Marigold flowers contain lutein, an antioxidant that protects one's eyes and skin. The element, which is widely used in cosmetics, foods, medicine and health products, is referred to as "soft gold." Rongyang Industry and Trade Co., Ltd. (in Mengzi) has entered into a contract to buy marigold flowers, grown by Mingjiu's farmers, at a low price. The town has established two flower-processing plants and an association to encourage farmers to grow more marigold flowers.

Officials of Mingjiu Women's Federation during the past few years have put a lot of effort into encouraging women residents to grow the flowers. So far, the association's 100-plus members have grown 10,300 mu (1,537 hectares) of the flowers. More than 1,900 rural families have joined the members in growing the flowers. The families have earned a combined 26 million yuan (US $4 million) by growing the flowers.

First Attempt

从零起步学种花

Li Qinying is somewhat of a celebrity in Amuzhai, a village in Mingjiu. Why? Many villagers consider Li, a 43-year-old Miao woman, one of the town's top women who got rich by developing their own businesses. During the past five years, Li has helped many villagers get rich by teaching them skills needed to grow marigold flowers.

"I'm a native of Jikou, a village in Lengquan (another town in Mengzi). I married my husband 19 years ago," Li

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