Qingdao businesses work with rural partners in Gansu to boost incomes

China Daily | Updated: 2021-04-16

After a yearslong battle against poverty, the mountainous Chengxian county in Northwest China's Gansu province, declared victory over poverty in 2019.

The rural county could not have overcome its hardships without the collaboration and assistance of businesses from Chengyang district in Qingdao some 1,500 kilometers away.

Chengxian county, under the administration of the city of Longnan, had long suffered from impoverished conditions and been largely cut off from the outside world because of a poor transport network. As a part of a government-backed scheme, businesses and investors in Chengyang district sought to provide assistance to Chengxian county in helping it better utilize its strengths in agriculture, diversify the products it could offer to the wider market and better commercialize its yields.

LiHe Extract, a Qingdao-based high-tech company engaged in chemical extraction and processing, invested in an extraction project in Chengxian county, and as a result employed local people.

"The five members of our family all previously relied on my father's work in a coal yard, which brought in 20,000 yuan ($3,060) a year," said Ren Jingjing, a Chengxian county local whose family had been listed as impoverished.

However, the life of Ren's family has now changed after she was employed at the LiHe plant. "Now, our monthly salary is more than 3,500 yuan, and we have expanded our house from a single clay house to five tile-roofed houses," Ren said.

The company utilizes local resources such as the Sichuan pepper and processes it into more than 10 types of products such as pepper oil and skincare creams.

To date, the project has had an investment of 160 million yuan, which is used to purchase 5,000 metric tons of peppers every year, and its annual output value is estimated at 800 million yuan.

That not only helps local farmers in Chengxian county to sell their peppers, but also benefits more than 50,000 households in rural areas in Longnan, local officials said.

Another poverty alleviation project by Chengyang district in Chengxian county is the marigold plantation and lutein industry park, which operates in cooperation with Jiayi Biology, a Qingdao-based bio-tech company.

"We work with farmers and cooperatives to buy fruits, conduct processing, and form a whole industrial chain for marigold flowers," said Liu Xianjun, general manager of the company.

The project has invested 50 million yuan in its first phase, planting 1,333.33 hectares of marigolds and benefiting more than 7,100 households in 17 towns and villages in Chengxian county. That has also helped 1,112 impoverished households escape poverty, according to local officials.

To date, Qingdao has enacted 50 projects in Longnan, with a total investment of 760 million yuan, creating a strong base for industries in the city, according to local officials.

Apart from the projects, Chengyang district has also helped Chengxian county sell its agricultural products by holding promotional events and conducting livestreams.

Since 2018, the district has helped Chengxian county to realize more than 60 million yuan in sales. Chengxian was also listed as the only pilot county for alleviating poverty through consumption in Gansu province.

"In the past, our honey was processed in individual workshops and was hard to sell via limited market channels and at a low price," said Li Kun, head of Erlang township in Chengxian county.

"With the paired assistance between eastern and western regions, Chengyang has helped us build cooperatives and sell our honey all around the country through e-commerce platforms with a doubled price," Li said.


Villagers pick marigold flowers in Chengxian county in Longnan, Northwest China's Gansu province. [Photo/China Daily]


A worker inspects equipment at the workshop of LiHe Extract in Longnan. [Photo/China Daily]