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Persistence pays off with thorny fruit

Author:gzstcj  From:CHINA DAILY Time:2019-01-03 Browse:  Size: Big Middle Small

Walking around Daba village in Anshun city, Guizhou province, one might be amazed at the uniform villas, wide roads and parklike environment.

However, 10 years ago nobody in the village could have imagined such living conditions, nor that they could raise their average annual income to more than 12,000 yuan ($1,740).

Villagers attributed the change to Chen Daxing, 50, who vowed to change the impoverished village when he became village Party chief in 1996.

Inspired by Chen, villagers began to plant tobacco during his first year in office, which improved their conditions. But a tobacco price slump in 1997 discouraged the whole village.

"At that time, I realized it was impossible to become wealthy through traditional cultivation," Chen said. "We needed to explore a new way."

"I took out private loans and put them into contracting farmland from a neighboring village and planted Chinese herbal medicines, pearl barley and peanuts, which resulted in a loss of 100,000 yuan due to bad weather," he said of his attempts over the next 10 years. "It didn't change a lot when we tried bamboo fungus cultivation."

The pressure turned his hair gray at age 40, but it didn't stop him.

"I still remember on the eve of the 1997 Lunar New Year, a creditor threatened to take my son away," said Chen's wife Liu Zeying. "I had to spend the Spring Festival away from home to ensure his safety."

During the 2007 Mid-Autumn Festival holiday, Chen tasted the fruit of Rosa roxburghii Tratt, or chestnut rose, a thorny plant rich in vitamin C, at a friend's party.

He sensed a great market opportunity for its wonderful taste and high concentration of nutrients and began planting it on 2 hectares of contracted farmland.

In 2011, he harvested 30,000 kilograms, worth 1.8 million yuan, but he used all the fruit in a tasting festival.

"It was well received among the invited guests and businessmen, and villagers saw signs of potential success," he said.

Soon afterward, Rosa roxburghii Tratt trees were planted widely across the village's 153 hectares of cultivated land.

A professional farming cooperative was founded, making the village the earliest and largest Rosa roxburghii Tratt planting base in Anshun.

In 2016, Daba village finished constructing a fruit wine factory with an annual output of 5,000 metric tons.

"Further processing is an effective way to increase the fruit's value," Chen said. "And an industry chain including planting and further processing may help develop the village faster."

In 2017, the village began to develop locust and hairy crab breeding industries, creating job opportunities for all its 1,564 residents.

"With my 2 hectares of cultivated land contracted to the cooperative, I receive a net income of 60,000 yuan per year," said villager Hu Xiaoqin. "In addition, I can earn 3,000 yuan per month growing trees."

With its good environment, the village is showing its advantages for tourism.

"After moving into the new villa in 2017, I started operating a country inn, which can bring me 20,000 yuan per year," said villager Wang Jiangping. "It feels good to earn money at home."

So far, 130 villas have been constructed with the help of bank loans.

Zhao Yandi contributed to this story.

Contact the writers at zhouhuiying@chinadaily.com.cn

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