Parrots lift disabled man's spirits, get him out of poverty

(Xinhua )| Updated : 2020-03-26

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JINAN -- Nie Xiangbo never thought that the one thing that would save his life would be parrots.

Nie is a disabled man in Gongjiaqiao village in the county of Linqu, East China's Shandong province. Years ago, a boiler explosion killed his wife when they were happily cooking delicacies at home together. The fire left extensive burns on his body and emotional scars on his mind.

"The fire burnt down my house and destroyed my life," he recalled. "I was unable to work and had no source of income, and medical bills left me in huge debt."

However, Nie found hope and started a new life by raising parrots with the help of local officials.

Currently, his farming base has 11 warehouses filled with the birds, with almost 2,000 fluttering parrots of various types. Last year, Nie's base turned out more than 3,000 parrots, earning him more than 100,000 yuan ($14,103).

"I have found a new life," he said.

But the success did not come easy.


After the tragedy, Nie was devastated and became depressed. The massive burns on his body made him introverted and he seldom talked to others. He was also mired in poverty.

In 2015, village officials Niu Weizhi and Zhao Fenqi were assigned to help Nie out of poverty. The officials decided to open his heart first. They went to talk to Nie every now and then, trying their best to cheer him up.

When Nie was recovering, one of his relatives sent him two parrots as pets.

"The relative wanted to give him something to do to avoid boredom, but it translated into a big business," Zhao said.

Nie had never raised parrots before. He was intrigued.

He devoted great attention to raising the birds and soon understood the parrots' habits and daily routines. Within a year, the two parrots gave birth to more than 10 baby parrots.

"He gradually started talking again," Zhao said. "We asked him to keep his chin up, and told him that despite what he had been through, life goes on."

Then, Niu and Zhao saw an opportunity.

"We went to the pet market and found that parrots were quite popular pets, so we suggested that Nie raise parrots on a big scale," Zhao said.

Nie agreed. He bought books on parrot raising, and turned to experts for knowledge about parrots, including how to tell their sex, how to prevent diseases and how to train them.


As he made progress, the officials began to seek financial support for Nie and helped Nie establish a parrot-raising cooperative. They found vacant land to build a farming base, while related departments offered guidance on entrepreneurship, information and training for Nie.

The cooperative officially opened in March 2016. According to the contract, Nie would receive 60 percent of the cooperative's revenue for his skills and labor, while the village would get 40 percent from the input of infrastructure.

"A pair of parrots can give birth four times a year, and each parrot can fetch 20 yuan to 100 yuan," Nie said.

In the first year, Nie managed to rake in 30,000 yuan, effectively lifting him out of poverty that year.

Riding on the success of the parrot-raising industry, Nie became a "technical councilor" for local villagers.

"I pair the birds according to their habits and personalities," Nie said. "A male and a female usually stay together, and I feed them twice a day."

"The budgerigars are easy to raise, but the cockatiels are picky and shy," he added.

Nie has bigger plans for the future.

"The coronavirus outbreak has disrupted sales a little," Nie said. "But it's okay. We plan to raise 3,000 parrots during this time, and I believe demand will rise again after the epidemic."