Empowerment that transcends a pancake

By Ye Zizhen| (China Daily)| Updated : 2018-08-06

Print Print


A bamboo forest in Linyi's Zhuquan village. [PHOTO BY YE ZIZHEN/CHINA DAILY]

After A Bite of China splashed a spotlight on this long overlooked area with revolutionary credentials, Mengyin county authorities decided to seize the opportunity to put Chunshugou at the center of a push to stimulate economic development and thus raise living standards in the area.

As part of those efforts, money was poured into upgrading roads, villagers were encouraged to open farm houses for tourist accommodation in addition to a general push to encourage tourism and the growing of chestnuts and peaches was encouraged.

Last year Chunshugou's 1,180 inhabitants relished the fruits of this effort, with annual per capita income of 12,900 yuan ($1,920) compared with just 6,200 yuan in 2013.

One of the beneficiaries of this economic fortune has been Liu Yingqi, 57, who used to run a restaurant before being drawn into what has been called the agritainment businesses.

Liu's home, surrounded by chestnut trees, has four standard rooms and four single rooms for rent.

The price for a standard room is 228 yuan a night and for a single 180 yuan a night, prices common to all 60 farm hotels in the village.

Local government funding accounts for 40 percent of the investment in this industry, Liu says.


The Museum of Heroic Women in Yimeng. [PHOTO BY YE ZIZHEN/CHINA DAILY]

Soon after A Bite of China episode was shown in 2014, Chunshugou's authorities invited a company from Zhejiang province to remodel the whole village, and the uniform pricing for accommodation and catering is a vestige of that planning.

Liu regards running rural farm houses collectively under the government guidance as positive, reducing the possibility of competition and contention among the village's families. The government also ensures that guest rooms, kitchens and toilets are in good order and are hygienic, he says.

Liu is a leader of the local tourism cooperative, and in December 2014 he went on a local-government organized tour of Taiwan to find out about how agritainment businesses are run there. Taiwan serves as a good model because it is a pioneer in developing rural tourism, Liu says.

The village's online presence is very limited, and it relies for customs mainly on word-of-mouth referrals. During the low season, from January to April, villagers switch their commercial attentions to their peaches and chestnuts and to beekeeping and rabbit breeding.

Liu's son and daughter-in-law work in downtown Linyi, an hour's drive from Chunshugou. Thanks to better roads and newfound wealth - almost every household owns a car - parents who were once cut off from their adult children can now have frequent contact.

Rural vitalization is part of the central government's mission to reduce the gap between development in the city and in the countryside, and thanks to the humble jianbing, a well thought-out tourism strategy and better infrastructure the inhabitants of Chunshugou and Linyi have been given the chance to benefit from that drive.

< 1 2