new ways of poverty alleviation in China
PERSONAL NOTE: The Chinese government is working hard to improve the lives of millions of people in mainland…and there are also new innovative programs to help improve the lives of people…in promoting and using skill-based alleviation poverty programs all over China. Peace, steve, usa july 28, 2019 firstname.lastname@example.org – blog – https://getting2knowyou-china.com
Peony in bloom: poverty alleviation efforts blossom in Heze city
By Liu Ning, Xian Jiangnan, Morag Hobbs, Gao Ke (People’s Daily Online) 17:19, July 27, 2019
It is a city steeped in idyllic beauty. Patches of bright peony blossoms are sprinkled among its fertile lands with the Yellow River winding through the pleasant landscape. Yet it is a city mired in poverty. It has long been at the bottom of the province in per capita GDP, being widely considered as the province’s poorest city. This staggering contrast of beauty and poverty coexists in Heze city.
Situated in the westernmost part of Shandong province, Heze borders Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces. The city is home to over 10 million inhabitants, having a larger population than over 100 countries in the world. Among them, about 460,300, at the end of 2017, were living below the provincial poverty threshold (about $525), the highest number among all cities in the province.
As targeted poverty alleviation became a government priority in China since late-2013, Heze has been exploring its own development paths that play to its strengths in the fight against poverty. According to government statistics, in 2018 the local GDP surpassed the 300-billion-yuan ($44.8 billion) mark unprecedentedly, an increase of 7.9 percent over the previous year, making it the fastest economically-growing city within the province. Since 2014, the poverty rate has dropped from 15.7 percent to less than 1 percent.
Previously a well-known poverty-stricken city, Heze has now become a paradigm of poverty alleviation. People’s Daily Online visited several villages in Heze city to find out the secrets that lie behind its economic boom.
Fragrant path to wealth
Heze, hailed as “China’s capital of peony”, has a 1,400-year history of peony cultivation. As China’s largest peony base, Heze boasts a total of 32,400 hectares of peony farmland with more than 1,200 varieties available.
Among all the business models in Heze, peony plays an indispensable role. The city, hailed as “China’s capital of peony”, has a 1,400-year history of peony cultivation. As China’s largest peony base, Heze boasts a total of 32,400 hectares of peony farmland with more than 1,200 varieties available.
In recent years, Heze’s peony industry has embarked on a road of industrialization as local authorities rolled out a variety of policies to support the cultivation and processing of peonies. Peonies are no longer used only for their beauty but also for producing goods including seed oil, tea, cosmetics and herbal medicine. In 2018, Heze’s output value of the peony industry exceeded 1.1 billion US dollars, providing great impetus for the city’s poverty alleviation.
“As for the peony, particularly in terms of cultivating, the natural conditions here are very favorable. Many villagers know very well how to cultivate peony. Moreover, the soil here is suitable for planting peony. Thus, many poor households or poor villagers can engage themselves in peony cultivation with easy access, and they can quickly learn the knowledge of this field,” said Li Hao, vice president of Haihui Mall of peony products.
Peony seed oil was recognized in 2011 as a new food resource in a statement from the Ministry of Health.
During an inspection tour to Shandong in 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Heze’s peony industry base. He was impressed by the added value of peony developed by the city, and stressed the importance of suiting one’s measures to local conditions when it comes to poverty alleviation.
Inspired by President Xi’s high recognition of peony industry, local villagers and entrepreneurs have gained enthusiasm and confidence in the industry. Guo Haiying, founder of Yueru Agricultural Development CO., Ltd., is among them. Her company, also serving as a targeted poverty alleviation industrial base, has helped local poor people make a better living.
“In 2013, President Xi came to Heze and proposed to develop the peony industry. After this, we started to cultivate the land and plant the flower. We mainly hire registered poverty-stricken households. Until now, we have arranged work for approximately 60 people from three nearby villages,” Guo said.
The peony industry in Heze has blossomed into one of the pillars of the city’s poverty alleviation campaign, helping over 100,000 people largely rid themselves of poverty. The city produces 4 million peony flowers annually, some of which are exported to over 20 countries around the world. There are over 120 companies in the region engaging in peony production, processing and sales. Over 240 kinds of peony-related products have been developed, and the industry begins to spread its tentacles to medicine, tourism, cultural and creative sectors.
“The peony industry is a sunrise industry, which is also a name card of Heze. I feel very confident about the peony industry and feel very enthusiastic about it,” said Guo.
China has seen a boom in the development of rural e-commerce in recent years, with massive expansions of “Taobao Villages” as part of the fight against poverty. Dinglou Village, located in Daiji Township, Caoxian County, was still poor 10 years ago. Benefiting from rapid development of rural e-commerce, it has now become one of the largest Taobao Villages in China, with about $58 million in online sales last year.
Ren Qingsheng was the first business owner to tap into e-commerce in Dinglou Village. In 2010, Ren noticed the potential of online retailing and seized the opportunity it presented. After borrowing 1,400 yuan to buy a computer, Ren started his online sale career by earning 600 yuan in profit from the first deal. That year, he made a total of 7,000 yuan from online sales. He primarily sells costumes for children, which is also the pillar industry in Daiji Township and its surrounding areas. Last year, his sales totaled about $1.2 million with a profit of $300,000.
“The internet has changed our villages as well as the life of villagers in Dinglou. Now, approximately 90% of households in Dinglou are engaged in this industry. In 2016, the whole village was lifted out of poverty. Now, our village, with 330 households, has over 300 private cars,” Ren said, who is now the village chief of Dinglou.
The success of Dinglou has encouraged more people in Heze, especially those in poverty-stricken villages, to jump on the bandwagon and follow its footsteps, with more and more Taobao Villages popping up throughout the city.
The entrance of Dinglou Village. Dinglou Village, located in Daiji Township, Caoxian County, was still poor 10 years ago. Benefiting from rapid development of rural e-commerce, it has now become one of the largest Taobao Villages in China, with about $58 million in online sales last year.
Last year, Heze led the nation in the number of Taobao Villages and Taobao Towns, with 267 and 35 respectively, and the e-commerce turnover reached $45 billion. Since 2017, over 25,000 of those labelled as rural poor in Heze benefited from e-commerce, accounting for 6.3% of the city’s population in poverty.
The thriving e-commerce rejuvenate rural communities; meanwhile, it offers an effective means that enable rural residents to build a better life in their hometowns without having to seek jobs in cities. Since 2014, Dinglou has attracted over 200 young villagers back to their hometown to start up businesses.
“In the past, our villagers had long preferred to seek work elsewhere, leaving behind their elderly and young children as the village’s only permanent population. With the e-commerce blooming, many villagers come back to start their own business and at the same time bring back advanced experiences and knowledge, propelling this industry to further develop,” Ren said.
“Poverty alleviation by e-commerce, unlike some other measures of poverty alleviation, is like ‘blood production’ instead of ‘blood transfusion’, enabling people to have a more dignified life,” said Li Jianmin, assistant secretary general of China Electronic Commerce Association.
Located 53 kilometers from Caoxian County, Shanxian County in Shandong province is another archetype of rural revitalization that stress “blood production” in the fight against poverty. Shanxian County, which boasts resource endowment and the reputation of “hometown of longevity”, helps the poor cultivate new abilities and skills to throw off poverty.
27-year-old Li Dandan runs her own breakfast joint after attending training sessions on baking and bread-making just a few months previously. These classes were organized by the local poverty alleviation support team and a vocational school in Heze. Previously unemployed, Li now earns herself a living by making fried stuffed buns, with a monthly income of around $2400.
“Before I went to the training session, I knew nothing about running a breakfast joint. But now I know everything I need to run my own business, such as how much flour and the proportions [of ingredients]. Since I have learned these skills, I can make better stuffed buns,” Li said happily.
As part of the support program to help those living in poverty acquire professional skills, the training was free to local villagers. Li, together with some other 300 villagers, were the first batch of trainees of the training, which offered classes including cooking, pastry making and electric welding. After the training, 142 of them passed the exam and obtained National Vocational Qualification Certificates.
“If people provide you with flour, oil, etc., they are gone once you eat them all. But once you master the skill, you can run a breakfast joint throughout your whole life. You can make a living by this. This is what you depend on,” Li said.
The school, jointly built by the local government and Tsinghua University, will open in this October. The school will offer freeclasses to villagers from nearby regions, equipping them with useful skills needed to live a better life.
Due to the popularity of these courses, the local government is forging cooperation with Tsinghua University to build a school dedicated to running this type of courses. Expected to open in this October, the school will offer free classes to villagers from nearby regions, equipping them with useful skills needed to live a better life.
“Skill-based poverty alleviation is the best way to fight against poverty. It is permanent poverty alleviation which endows them with the ability to achieve prosperity and promote the development of industry. This is one aspect of industrial revitalization. As for industrial revitalization, qualified personnel is the most significant and most crucial part,” said Zheng Zhaopei, a member of the poverty alleviation support team in Shanxian County, also a professor at Shandong Normal University.
To better play to its strengths, Shanxian County, located near the national 4A-level scenic spot of Fulong Lake, took advantage of its natural resource and developed itself into a tourism site. Guesthouses were established to attract tourists, offering delicious local food.
“All these services need to be supported by professionals. Only by motivating our people and teaching them relevant skills can we truly rejuvenate our villages. As an old saying goes, ‘Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat forever’,” said Wang Zhong, team leader of the poverty alleviation support team in Shanxian County.