Talented youths return to rural areas to boost vitalization

Xue Qiang stands in the corn field after harvest in Chang'an District of Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Sept. 18, 2020. (Xinhua)

  Xue Qiang stands in the corn field after harvest in Chang'an District of Xi'an, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Sept. 18, 2020. (Xinhua)

BEIJING, May 3 (Xinhua) — Xue Qiang, 35, graduated from Xi’an Technological University with a master degree in economics in 2012.

Almost without hesitation, he decided to go back home to take over the “family business” in the rural areas of Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province.

His father, Xue Tuo, takes care of over 660 hectares of land and is a famous farmer in his hometown.

Now Xue Qiang runs an agricultural machinery cooperative and the traditional farm work of plowing, sowing, spraying the pesticide and harvesting is completely mechanized and can be completed in just nine days.

Xue Qiang also takes advantage of his educational background in farming. “I do maths to make decisions. For instance, I compare the cost between planting wheat and other crops, the cost of upgrading machinery and the estimated profit. My major helps me mitigate risks and make the right decision,” said Xue Qiang.

Last year, wheat fields managed by Xue Qiang’s cooperative achieved a yield of 5,250 kg per hectare, much higher than that in the surrounding areas.

In 2017, China proposed a rural vitalization strategy as a key move to accelerate the modernization of agriculture and rural areas, and has since adopted a host of policies to chart the roadmap for rural vitalization.

As the campaign goes deeper, more young, high-skilled personnel like Xue have been playing an important role in promoting modern agriculture and becoming new types of farmers. With professional skills and novel ideas of management, they are bringing new vitality to China’s rural economic development.

Wang Qi, 28, is wowed at how his home village has transformed over the past decades.

Located in the remote areas of Shaanxi Province, Yuanjia Village only had 62 households in the late 1970s. Now it has grown into a famous tourist destination attracting over 5 million tourists a year. The annual per capita income of the village has surpassed 100,000 yuan (15,450 U.S. dollars).

“In 2019, the head of the villagers’ committee called for the young generation to come back and ‘explore new ways’ to boost the development of the village, and I was lured back after months’ consideration,” said Wang.

The young people did bring the village a new look. They introduced popular food chain stores such as Starbucks and KFC and the move is well-received among young tourists.

The Starbucks coffeehouse was set in an old building of the Ming and Qing dynasties, said Wang, adding that the building’s original appearance was preserved.

Ding Dan, a graduate student from the University of Liverpool, also decided to become a farmer after working several years in Shanghai’s central business district.

His parents run a food-processing company with an annual output value of 200 million yuan, but they have not been supportive of his decision.

“In their view, being involved in agriculture is too laborious,” said Ding.

Being a farmer is indeed a Herculean task. After failing to make a profit out of the land in the first year, Ding’s company was shattered by extreme drought, flooding, plague of insects and low temperature in the next two years, taking a hit on the already untenable business.

But Ding eventually worked it out and in 2019, after two years of work in Shinao Township of Gao’an City, east China’s Jiangxi Province, his 20-hectare land yielded 165,000 kg of rice.

Now Ding’s company has created over 600 job positions and significantly raised the income of local farmers.

A law on the promotion of rural vitalization was recently adopted by the national legislature, providing the country a legal guarantee in pursuit of the rural vitalization strategy.

The law stipulates protecting the permanent basic cropland, building a system to ensure a steady increase in rural income, and strengthening the work involving rural talent.

Talent has always been placed in a prominent position in China’s rural vitalization, which will provide ample space for Chinese youths to bring new technologies and concepts to the countryside and promote the local economy.

Huang Wenxin, a provincial agricultural official, said Jiangxi will further optimize the rural entrepreneurial environment, encourage and guide high-skilled personnel such as university graduates and retired soldiers to work in the rural areas.

“I hope more young people could join the mission of rural vitalization,” said Xue Qiang.

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