Rural vitalization blooms as province's latest project

By ZHAO RUIXUE in Jinan and LI YANG| (China Daily)| Updated : 2021-05-27

Print Print


Visitors browse vegetables at an exhibition center in Shouguang, Shandong province. [Photo by LIANG BEN/FOR CHINA DAILY]

By using a three-pronged approach to poverty alleviation, Shandong made its own contribution to China's unique efforts to end extreme poverty.

Now, the province has undertaken a new mission to propel rural vitalization.

From 2016 to last year, the province allocated more than 32 billion yuan ($5 billion) to support poverty alleviation work, while officials have been working at the grassroots as Party secretaries to guide overall rural development.

By the end of 2018, the province had completed its poverty alleviation mission by lifting more than 2.51 million rural residents living below the provincial poverty line out of poverty. In 2019, the province introduced measures to consolidate the results and ensure that no one fell back into poverty.

In line with central government requirements, Shandong has set a five-year grace period to keep policies consistent and stable as part of efforts to prevent any relapses into poverty.

Old bases, new life

Linyi city has long been known for its "Yimeng Spirit", a feeling cultivated during the liberation struggle of the 1930s and 40s.

Before the founding of New China, more than 1.2 million of the 4.2 million people living near the Yimeng Mountains made efforts to support the army, which was led by the Communist Party of China, and more than 200,000 of them joined up to fight.

Their spirit of hard work, self-improvement, selflessness and dedication was dubbed the "Yimeng Spirit". Since then, that spirit has inspired generations, and it still shines today in many ways, including in the fight against poverty.

In Linyi, 451,000 people were lifted out of poverty during the period of the 13th Five Year Plan (2016-20), while the average annual net income rose from 2,566 yuan in 2016 to 7,481 yuan in 2019.

Jiujianpeng, a village in Linyi's Pingyi county, was once one of Shandong's poorest settlements as a result of its harsh natural environment. In recent decades, it has seen great changes in both its environment and people's livelihoods.

Liu Jiakun, Party secretary of Jiujianpeng, said the village has devised a development pattern based on the growth of tourism, agriculture and medicine.

"In 1984, we started water treatment and afforestation programs to turn our village into a better place with electricity, running water and roads," Liu said.

All households in the village now have access to the improved infrastructure, including paved roads and indoor toilets.

The village has given full play to Pingyi's rich honeysuckle resources, and the county styles itself as China's home of the bloom.

"A whole industry chain featuring honeysuckle flowers has taken shape in the village, covering everything from breeding high-quality strains to research and development of related traditional Chinese medicines and food," Liu said.

Support will be strengthened through targeted efforts to develop industries, create jobs and improve infrastructure and public services in areas where people have been relocated.

The plain between the Yellow River and its dikes is prone to flooding, especially in July and August, which has lowered crop yields and necessitated expensive repairs to farmers' houses.

Now, more than 600,000 people who lived on the flood plain in the province have been relocated to new communities in safer locations that feature recently built workshops, kindergartens, community service centers and schools.

After moving to a new house in Sanhe village, Heze city, last year, Su Liying quit her job in an auto parts factory in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, and returned to her hometown to work at a factory that makes blankets. "I have a good house and can earn the same as in other cities," she said. "More importantly, I can be with my child."

Her 11-year-old son is studying at the primary school in the new community. Every morning, he and Su leave home together, and she heads to work after seeing him to the classroom.

Food security

Last year, the total production value of Shandong's agricultural sector was 1.02 trillion yuan. It was the first time the figure had exceeded 1 trillion yuan in any provincial-level region, according to the Shandong Bureau of Statistics. In addition, the province's agricultural output has topped all such regions since 1990.

Thanks to its developed agricultural science and technology, the province irrigates 6 percent of China's cultivated land but only uses 1 percent of the available irrigation water. Its output of grain, fruit, vegetables, aquatic products and peanuts accounts for 8 percent, 9 percent, 10 percent, 11 percent, 13 percent and 16 percent respectively of the national total.

Last year, despite the COVID-19 epidemic, its agricultural exports were worth 125.74 billion yuan, a rise of 1.9 percent from 2019.

In 2019, science and technology contributed 64.56 percent of the added value of agriculture in the province, 5.36 percentage points higher than the national average.

For instance, Shouguang county, which supplies more than 9 million metric tons of the nation's vegetable needs, is also a major supplier of advanced crop-planting technology across the country.