China Focus: Village officials work for lifting locals out of poverty
KUNMING, July 2 (Xinhua) -- Village officials are playing an important role in helping locals shake off poverty, as the case in Lumadeng village in Yunnan Province has demonstrated.
Village officials in Lumadeng have convened 23 meetings since 2015 on promoting a pillar industry to raise the villagers out of poverty.
For generations, villagers in Lumadeng grew corn, which is easy and cheap to plant and quick to reap, but not profitable, said Pu Yezao, Party chief of the village.
Lumadeng was once in abject poverty with around 44 percent of its more than 3,200 residents living below the poverty line in 2015, with each resident earning less than 2,800 yuan (423 U.S. dollars) a year.
With up to 70 percent of farmland in Lumadeng village on a 25 degree mountain slope, the large-scale plantation of corn lead to water and soil loss.
"Industrial adjustment and alternative planting are musts for the improvement of peoples' livelihood," Pu said.
However, persuading the villagers to abandon a tradition lasting thousands of years proved to be difficult.
"Almost all the residents in Lumadeng are of Lisu ethnic group who took part in slash-and-burn cultivation before 1949 in the remote mountainous area, which later transformed into a contemporary society after the founding of the People's Republic of China," said Pu.
Due to inconvenient transportation and complex geographical conditions, these people have long been disconnected from the outside world, which has made it difficult for them to accept new staff, he added.
After several meetings with more than 60 representatives of Party members and villagers, Lumadeng chose to plant Amomum Tsao-ko, a ginger-like Chinese herb which grows at high altitudes, as the pillar industry.
To win the poverty relief campaign, the village adopted a multi-level strategy in which the village Party branch encourages Party members to make changes and the Party members take the lead in implementing new decisions, such as planting the herb, as a demonstration to surrounding villagers.
"One of the biggest concerns for ordinary residents is the economic benefit of the new industry. Once they see some success, they will be more willing to be engaged," Pu said.
By the end of 2017, the 200 hectares of Amomum Tsao-ko has brought the villagers more than 15 million yuan.
The multi-level strategy is also applied to public hygiene. Since 2017, Party members have been leading all villagers to clean the main roads on Sundays.
"In the past, nobody cared about hygiene. The village was horribly smelly with excrement and urine everywhere," said villager Fan Xinguang.
"But now, with a broom and a garbage bag in hand, we have already formed a habit of cleaning the environment. We also pick up trash every day after dinner," Fan said.
To export more labor forces, the village Party branch has organized dozens of training classes every year, inviting experts to teach villagers useful skills including breeding, planting, construction and housekeeping.
"Villagers leaving the mountains can have broader views, and be more capable of joining the fast developing world and shaking off poverty," said He Wenbao, a village official.
By the end of 2017, annual per capita income of Lumadeng reached more than 6,500 yuan, up 37 percent compared with that in 2015. More than 230 households of about 1,000 people were lifted out of poverty in two years and the village is expected to lift all people out of poverty this year.
"We are happy and proud to see a better village. All of those who opposed our decisions in the meetings at first now show their gratitude," Pu said.