BEIJING, Oct. 20, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- A news report by China.org.cn on how science helps karst-based Shuicheng district in China's Guizhou province to harness advantages and characteristics in order to reduce poverty and achieve rural vitalization.
Shuicheng district locates in Guizhou province's Liupanshui city. It is a typically karst region and has historically suffered from high levels of poverty. In 2012, the Wuhan Botanical Garden of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (WBGCAS) harnessed its humid subtropical climate and fertile soil resources to grow red kiwifruit and develop the local fruit industry. This initiative went on to transform the lives of poor households in the area. In fact, development of the local red kiwifruit industry has helped to drastically reduce poverty rate in Shuicheng, which fell from 28.86 percent in 2014 to 1.15 percent in 2020. The WBGCAS staff provided practical support and conducted professional training for local farmers, which has improved the industrial level of planting, and significantly increased yields and profits.
Shuicheng's science-driven poverty alleviation model is bolstered by its rural resource transformation, a process that optimized the use of resources and funds and transformed the local farmers into company shareholders. Zhang Rongquan, who works as a senior agronomist of the Management Committee of the Eastern Agricultural Industrial Park in Shuicheng, commented on this achievement: "This rural resource transformation strategy originated in the Miluo Township of Shuicheng. It was first implemented at Miluo's local red kiwifruit industrial base. The reform strategy was initiated by the local government in an effort to increase the incomes of villagers. This was achieved by making the best use of land resources, helping locals enhance their social capital and creating jobs for the unemployed in rural areas."
Yan Tingyin is one of the many villagers who have benefited from the development of the red kiwifruit industry. He told a china.org.cn reporter, "Our industry has achieved more output with the help of the CAS, and we're earning more and leading a better life. I hope that when I can finally plant kiwifruit in my hometown, my kids will have a better education and achieve good grades. We need to strengthen our kiwifruit sector. We have all agreed that our kiwifruit industry is lucrative."
China succeeded in eradicating absolute poverty and building a moderately prosperous society in 2020, and the country is now more committed than ever to realizing its rural vitalization agenda. Many people believe that rural industrial development can build a bridge between poverty alleviation and rural vitalization. Zhong Caihong, who works as director of the research team on kiwifruit resources and breeding at the WBGCAS, is one of them. Since 2012, Zhong and her team have been conducting a field study in Shuicheng, which has helped to draw up a plan for developing a sustainable kiwifruit industry. "After much discussion and analysis, our research team soon realized that this area was crying out for experts to come up with a concrete solution [to rural underdevelopment and poverty]. In areas with suitable conditions for kiwifruit cultivation, we helped farmers lay out a plan for the establishment of an agricultural industrial park, and provided detailed training and on-site direction. We have since introduced a new variety of red kiwifruit called Donghong, which has CAS patent coverage," Zhong said.
"We have increased fruit varieties, grown more resilient fruit, and trained a number of farmers and local technicians who mainly came from municipal and county-level agriculture bureaus. A big part of our work is training staff from local enterprises. In recent years, we have established demonstration and pilot zones to train villagers, which has helped realize human resources development," Zhong added.
The introduction of new varieties and provision of training have resulted in positive outcomes. Such achievements were echoed by Chen Meiyan, a researcher from WBGCAS, who commented, "Many people have benefited from the kiwifruit industry. In order to benefit more villagers, we aim to expand planting areas. We now intend to increase our planting altitude by another 300 meters and introduce new fruit varieties. This will allow more locals to benefit [from rural development and vitalization]. Our next step is to help reduce labor production costs by experimenting with some new cultivation models. Our goal is to achieve high-quality growth across the entire industry and bring our industrial benefits to a new level."
However, the path to rural vitalization is not that easy. To combat challenges along the way, the Chinese Academy of Sciences has been continuously providing Shuicheng with scientific and practical assistance. In the phase of development, the WBGCAS plans to enhance locals' planting skills by rolling out more universal training and building more demonstration sites.
Zhong Caihong believes that it is crucial for villagers to see and benefit from the positive outcomes of these demonstration sites. "Rural vitalization is, in its essence, industrial revitalization. Recent successes show that local prosperity can be achieved through renovating villages and improving rural infrastructure," she said.
"The seed industry is the agricultural lifeline of our country. We, as scientific and technological workers, must first succeed in developing the seed industry. We also need to do a good job of research in the industry to help with the creation and cultivation of new varieties. I also hope to train a large number of young people [in the future]. I am really happy to see that many graduate students have started to work for our kiwifruit industry in recent years. I am very happy to see young people join in and help invigorate the industry,'' Zhong smiled as she recalled.
Shuicheng's science-driven resource transformation model prompts rural development revolution