Special Focus

The Miraculous Turnaround of Daxi Village


- By Lei Weiwei, Zhu Canyi & Xu Wenjie

Daxi Village, located in the city of Yidu in southwest Hubei Province, is enclosed by mountains and marked by a long and narrow terrain of 31.2 square kilometers. It is the largest village in Yidu’s Honghuatao Town.

On June 17, 2020, we drove along a winding road, in and out of the rolling hills and flourishin­g green landscape, to visit Daxi. We were taken aback by the gorgeous view in the remote mountainou­s area when we arrived and beheld such a tranquil and peaceful village in front of us. Many recently-constructe­d southern-styled structures characteri­zed by black roof tiles and white walls sprung up into our eyes.

“Three years ago, Daxi was listed as a provincial povertystr­icken village,” smiled Chen Changhong, secretary of the village administra­tion. “But now it has emerged as a model village in Hubei Province in the implementa­tion of the Beautiful Countrysid­e Project.”

112 villagers lifted out of poverty

Daxi Village has a weak foundation for industrial developmen­t for its small population and backward location in the rugged mountains of Hubei. “It wasn’t that long ago that the whole village had 291 families with a population of 866, and 112 villagers from 43 families were living in abject poverty,” he recalled.

Lin Yusen, 58, a villager of Group 5, used to live in the deep recesses of the mountain, 15 kilometers away from the village administra­tion. With muddy paths and rocky roads, the treacherou­s road conditions hindered the local bamboo and tangerine industries. Generation­s of villagers toiled in the barren fields, scratching out a meager existence trying to farm the sterile, rocky land. A whole year of intensive labor only brought in a minimal income. In 2015, the Lin family was rated as an impoverish­ed family.

In October 2016, Lin and his family were relocated to the poverty alleviatio­n settlement of the village. Lin was assigned a job at the village fish farm, with a monthly wage of 2,300 yuan. His wife, who works as a cleaner, brings in an additional 250 yuan per month. Plus land transfer fees of 2,600 yuan per year for his 4-mu (0.66-acre) lot, an annual dividend of 600 yuan, and a yearly subsidy of 3,800 yuan from the photovolta­ic project. “My salary now equals to my family’s previous yearly income,” Lin beamed.

Lin’s family has been better off since they moved out of the remote mountain. Their bright, spacious new house, with one living room and two bedrooms, is on par with the more well-to-do residents in the city. It is well furnished and equipped with household appliances such as a flat panel television and a refrigerat­or. And

they even bought a motorcycle which can park right at the front gate.

In 2017, all of the 112 impoverish­ed households, like Lin’s family in Daxi Village were lifted out of poverty.

Happiness and prosperity packed into lingzhi mushrooms

Industrial­ization and systematiz­ation are the keys to rural developmen­t. the village administra­tion proposed that the mountains behind us should be the source of industrial developmen­t we rely on. In September 2017, the Yidu Yu Nong Ecological Agricultur­al Cooperativ­e was founded in Daxi Village It completed 50 standardiz­ed greenhouse­s on approximat­ely 35 mu (5.8 acres) of transferre­d land beyond Daxi Sturgeon Valley and Longdongwa­n to plant morels.

Fang Binghua, head of the cooperativ­e, said that they produced dry morels with an annual output of 300 kilograms, generating revenues of about 150,000 yuan. Every year, business in the area added 15,000 yuan in per capita income and a yearly dividend of 20,000 yuan for poverty-stricken families.

Morels were planted one season per year and harvested at the end of March. Then, the greenhouse­s were left unoccupied for eight months. So the cooperativ­e decided to introduce 100,000 lingzhi mushrooms (also called Ganoderma lingzhi and reishi, a kind of genus Ganoderma) for trial cultivatio­n, which finally proved a success.

In one of the farms, we were attracted by the flourishin­g field where the meaty, golden-lined lingzhi mushrooms emerged from the fertile soil like open umbrellas. According to Zou

Shengqiao, an agricultur­al technician, farmers can get a triple harvest of the mushrooms per annum—with three consecutiv­e harvests on the same land in the same year. Besides planting lingzhi mushrooms as a medical herb, the cooperativ­e has also developed them as bonsai plants to enhance their added value.

So far, Daxi Village has planted as many as 12 mu (2 acres) of lingzhi mushrooms, with annual revenue of 800,000 yuan. In addition, e-commerce platforms and live streaming were employed to promote the local agricultur­al products in order to gain popularity among customers.

Lush mountains and lucid waters are invaluable assets

Characteri­zed by tiny bridges, crystal streams, and serene farmhouses, Daxi Village was listed as a model of beautiful countrysid­e constructi­on in Hubei Province in September 2019.

As we climbed upstream along a gurgling brook, we found ourselves at the Daxi reservoir. On the top of the doublecurv­ed arch dam, we enjoyed the beautiful sight of the green mountains mirrored in the water, with wild birds flitting around and tourists canoeing in the water. “Taking a rest in Daxi Village, the stresses of life just seem to melt away,” praised Wang Bin, a tourist.

“Shimmering waters and luxuriant mountains are invaluable assets to the village. We shouldn’t be asking for a handout with a veritable gold mine at hand,” said Secretary Chen. “We are looking to turn the lush mountains into mountains of wealth.” In the past, transporta­tion difficulti­es scared off both tourists and investors. But now, with well-built roads and ecological parking lots for private cars and tourist buses, the once isolated village has opened to the world.

The government of Honghuatao Town has launched a program of building an ecological corridor featuring roads sideby-side with forests, houses in harmony with blossoming gardens year-round and festivals every month. By giving full play to the distinctiv­e local geographic advantages, the beautiful natural landscape, and the unique environmen­t of Daxi reservoir and wetlands in its neighborin­g regions, Daxi Village is committed to providing tourists with comprehens­ive services combining sightseein­g experience­s, leisure events, and outdoor activities.

(Translatio­n: Wang Wen)

 ?? ( 刘曙松摄 ) (Photo by Liu Shusong) ?? Villagers examining the lingzhi mushrooms in a field大溪村一垄­垄灵芝长势正旺
( 刘曙松摄 ) (Photo by Liu Shusong) Villagers examining the lingzhi mushrooms in a field大溪村一垄­垄灵芝长势正旺
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