Signature industries boost income of Datong residents

By Yuan Shenggao (China Daily) Updated: 2021-06-11


The modern dairy industry is one of the characteristic sectors to boost rural development in the city of Datong. [Photo by Liu Tong for China Daily]

Datong, a city in northern Shanxi, is using its local characteristic industries to boost rural development and improve people's livelihoods.

In the city's Yunzhou district, the day lily industry is one such sector bringing increasing revenues to farmers.

The flower of the plant is a popular food ingredient nationwide. It is especially popular in regions of eastern and southern China, like Fujian and Guangdong provinces.

On a morning during early June in Tongjiapu village, a major growing and planting area for the cash crop, farmers were busy working on their day lily plantations. They are irrigating, fertilizing and weeding.

When the farmers begin to harvest the flowers in late June, they will start to work even earlier in the morning as the flowers must be collected before sunrise when the blossoms are not yet fully open.

"But the labor is worthwhile as the flower is something growers can use to make a fortune," said Yang Qi, a local villager.

Yang has been an experienced day lily grower engaged in the industry for more than 20 years.

He is now the chief of Tangjiapu Village Economic Development, a local cooperative for the growing, production and sales of day lilies.

The cooperative operates more than 30 hectares of day lily farms and a processing factory in Tangjiapu.

"The cooperative's sales grew more than 100 percent in 2020 compared with the previous year," Yang said.

The entrepreneur added that the cooperative plans to expand its operations and extend its industrial chain by using a special government fund of 20 million yuan ($3.13 million) and collaborating with a larger agricultural company in Datong.

The cooperative's latest plan is to establish a day lily industry park in Tangjiapu, creating an industrial chain that covers planting, processing, packaging, warehousing, logistics, research and development as well as rural tourism.

The day lily industry is currently a major agricultural sector in Yunzhou, trailing only grain production.

According to the local government, day lily-related industries in Yunzhou district generated a total output value of 1.12 billion yuan in 2020, up 53.1 percent from previous years. The industries' expansion meant added per capita incomes of 4,100 yuan to residents engaged in such businesses.

Like Yunzhou, all of the nine counties and districts in Datong have their own characteristic industries to help with poverty alleviation and rural revitalization.

The county of Tianzhen, for instance, is using vocational training to help rural residents overcome poverty and increase their incomes.

Tianzhen's vocational training focuses on one sector: training home service workers, or nannies.

The choice was made because of Tianzhen's large number of surplus laborers, especially those who are female. Statistics showed 26,000 female laborers in the county were waiting to find jobs a decade ago.

Local authorities began to launch home-service skill training some 10 years ago. To date, the county has trained more than 25,000 nannies, who have found jobs throughout the country.

Because of their background in skills training, "Tianzhen nannies" are now popular in big North China cities like Beijing and Tianjin. According to the county government, the home service workers have made a total annual income of more than 200 million yuan in recent years.

Cheng Meihua is one such woman who made a fortune after receiving vocational training.

"My six-member family used to live on a farmland of less than 0.4 hectares and the output and revenue from the land could hardly support our livelihood," Cheng said.

After receiving training in 2016, Cheng is now a skilled home-service worker. She earns more than 6,000 yuan a month, far more than the family's farming-generated income for an entire year.

Guo Yanjie contributed to this story.

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