Village life has new take on ancient saying

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily)

Updated: 2021-06-25


The Lyuliang Mountains are greener as a result of local residents' work to plant trees. [Photo by Feng Shuai for China Daily]

As an ancient Chinese proverb says, "people living in mountains should live on mountains".

This saying still holds true for residents in Yujiayu village at the heart of Lyuliang Mountains in the west of Shanxi province.

But slightly different from what the proverb implies, "nowadays people living on mountains does not mean exploiting resources from the mountains, like cutting trees, hunting wild animals or mining", said Zhang Qiulin, head of the village in Shilou county of Lyuliang city. "On the contrary, people are giving back to the mountains by planting trees on them."

The official said most local farmers are members of the village forestry cooperative, which was originally founded for the purpose of poverty reduction. The villagers received dividends and salaries from the cooperative by planting trees in the vicinity of the village.

Residents in Yujiapan, another village in Shilou county, are doing the same thing.

"As a member of the village cooperative, my job is to plant trees on barren hills and slopes in the neighborhood," said Ji Haipeng, a villager in Yujiapan. "I like this job. It generates a monthly revenue of nearly 3,000 yuan ($460) for me while substantially improving the local ecological environment."

According to the Lyuliang city government, there are nearly 1,400 forestry cooperatives in the city that bring added revenues to about 500,000 residents by giving them dividends as members or offering them jobs related to tree-planting or forest management.

For residents who cannot live on mountains, the city has offered another option-helping them find jobs through labor skills training.

Local vocational schools focus on training for the nursing and home service industries.

Ma Jinlian is the founder of Yixing Home Service. She started her career as a home service worker after receiving skill training about a decade ago.

Ma first worked as a nanny and then established her own business. Her company has helped more than 200 families overcome poverty by offering people jobs.

Ma also opened her own home service training school, benefiting nearly 2,300 people.

Also helping Lyuliang's poverty reduction is its steady economic growth, which offers residents more opportunities to find jobs, start businesses and increase revenues.

Local statistics show the city's GDP increased from 570 million yuan in 1978 to 153.8 billion yuan in 2020. As a result, per capita disposable income of urban residents increased from 223 yuan to 30,382 yuan and that of rural residents grew from 83 to 10,656 over the past 42 years.

Lyuliang announced last year that it had eradicated absolute poverty, meaning its previously impoverished population of 590,000 were all lifted out of poverty.

Li Shu contributed to this story.