The village of Podong, located in Qiandongnan prefecture, Guizhou province, has undergone severe changes in recent years as all villages in China are doing all they can to lift its people out of poverty.
The river wanders through Podong, and ecological farms located on both banks for leisure. (Photo: China Daily)
If you were to come to Podong nowadays, you could stroll the fields to pick blueberries with fresh frost, go fishing for a live lobster, sit around with friends and immerse yourself in the tranquility of country life.
However, six years ago, this "rural paradise" was filled with muddy roads and had no street lamps. It failed to invest in high-standard farmland projects and defaulted on wage payments. Numerous disputes broke out due to this poor management.
In 2014, a new leading team responsible for county civil affairs, was elected. They tried solving their problems by following the “Party building promotes cooperatives” motto, where party members take the lead in setting up cooperatives and encouraging people’s participation.
However, according to Zhang Qingkai, the First Secretary of the Joint Party Committee of Podong, “things didn't go smoothly at the first year.” Some people suspected that the village was engaged in illegal fundraising and marketing, while others worried that their investment might have been a waste.
In order to encourage more people to buy shares of the cooperative, the cadres of the Party branch of Podong, took the lead to buy some shares of the cooperative and promised not to receive remuneration from it until they made profits.
After many efforts were put towards cooperatives, they began to finally operate. A few days before the Spring Festival of 2015, a large number of smiling villagers crowded together in the square of Podong County, waiting in line to get their dividends.
"In recent years, people often say that they don't care about being ugly,” Zhang stated. “but are afraid of not having a hukouof Podong." This statement is accurate to the economical climate because only those with the hukouof Podong can become a shareholder.
Currently, there are eight village-owned collective enterprises and twelve cooperatives in Podong. Podong has met and achieved its goal of alleviating poverty through the "party branch + cooperative + farm base + farmers" motto. The per capita income of villagers has increased from 5,710 yuan to 12,690 yuan, which is far above average when compared to the average level of neighboring villages.
The development of Podong has been based on agriculture since many locals are only familiar with farming techniques. By developing a fruit picking experience, garden and ecological farm, Podong is turning the countryside into scenic spots.
To make the development more sustainable, Podong county focused on the alleviation of industrial poverty which aimed at increasing added value of food ingredients. Some well-known products from Podong are: Aunt Shui's salted duck eggs, ferns and morchella.
As a national level 3A tourist attraction, Podong attracts about 150,000 tourists every year. Ms He, 30, has been selling cold rice noodles on a corridor of an eco-farm for five years. Her business is popular in the area.“In the peak season, sometimes I can sell 500 to 600 bowls of cold rice noodles a day, and each one sells 5 yuan,” she said.
A basket of blueberries is picked by tourists. (Photo: China Daily)
Pan Nianhua, 45, is a staff member of the Tropical Botanical Museum in Podong. "Even foreigners praise our beautiful scenery here," Pan said. Last year, a group of foreign tourists came to Podong, it was Pan’s first time seeing foreigners.
Currently, most tourists come from the surrounding areas, few come from outside provinces. They are now considering improving the popularity of Podong county by planning to build a 4A national tourist attraction and adding artificial landscapes along with recreational facilities.
Zhang said with a smile, "We do face some challenges, but since I started to work in the countryside, one of my strongest feelings is that I have the courage to do everything. If we first consider the restrictive factors, we will deny our original ideas and be limited."