A farmer harvests grapes in Gelongshan village, Huaying, Sichuan province, where incomes have been rising because of a government-lead vineyard program. [Qiu Haiying / China Daily]
In the past five years, Cheng Chunsheng, a tea planter from Wangwan village in Tongbai county, Henan province, has paid for his two children to complete college courses, and bought a car for business purposes. At the same time, the 48-year-old entrepreneur has expanded his tea-cultivation area tenfold from the 0.33 hectares he owned in 2011.
The expansion of Cheng’s business, and the subsequent rise in his standard of living, is the result of discount loans offered to planters by the local government, which also provides subsidies so tea farmers can purchase better-quality seeds and pave roads in the mountainous area.
“Our lives are so much better now,” said Cheng, who earns about 50,000 yuan ($7,900) a year, and is head of a 230-member planters’ cooperative.
“I hope my daughter will carry on my business, and hopefully she will use the Internet skills she’s learned to promote trade online and offline,” he said.
Fan Yuangang, the Party chief of Wangwan, said the annual per capita income has risen to 6,800 yuan from less than 2,000 five years ago.
The proportion of villagers classified as living in poverty has dropped to 9 percent from 40 percent, he added.
China was the first developing country to meet the target set by the UN’s Millennium Development Goals program of halving the number of people living in poverty before 2015.
Despite that, official statistics show that at the end of last year about 70 million rural residents were living below the national poverty line, classified as annual net income of 2,300 yuan. Moreover, about 200,000 people had no access to power, and millions lacked supplies of clean water. Illness forced about 40 percent of the impoverished rural population into straightened circumstances, and 10 million people needed to be relocated from uninhabitable areas.
President Xi Jinping has also reiterated the government’s determination to lift 70 million people above the poverty line and build China into a “moderately prosperous” country by the end of 2020.
Hong Tianyun, deputy director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, said the government will take comprehensive measures to eliminate poverty, such as improving financial policies and services to enable a larger number of impoverished farmers to obtain loans for business startups.