A tranquil wide view of Swan Lake International Cittaslow Scenic Area. [Photo provided to shandong.chinadaily.com.cn]
In recent years Suoyifan village, located in Zibo city in East China's Shandong province, has been on the fast-track to rural vitalization owing to its busy neighbor – the Swan Lake International Cittaslow Scenic Area along the Yellow River.
The scenic area used to be a sand basin – a place for deposits of sand in the Yellow River. With its natural and cultural resources of wetlands, hot springs and villages alongside the river it has become a popular wetland park resort for getting close to nature and for science popularization.
Centered within the scenic area, surrounding villages have developed a series of specialized industries.
Suoyifan village, one of the typical examples, started developing rural tourism in 2014 and got rid of its poverty in 2015. In 2016, the village moved into breeding crayfish in its rice paddies.
"One aim is to increase tourism projects and the other is to increase income from the land," said Si Guoying, Party secretary of the village.
He explained that crayfish farming alone had increased the income by more than 4,000 yuan ($600) per mu of land a year. Furthermore, harmful larvae in the rice fields are eaten by the crayfish, so the fields no longer need pesticides. What's more, the pollution-free rice can be sold at a higher price.
In addition, the village started to build homestays and developed agritainment in 2017, leading to the rapid development of surrounding industries such as reed grass knitting, coarse cloth weaving and lantern weaving.