Technology counselors tackle poverty

Source:Xinhua-Global Times Published: 2019/4/22 17:18:08

Experts in science, agriculture help poor farmers grow profits

A villager works at a tea plantation in Southwest China's Guizhou Province as part a local poverty alleviation project. Photo: IC

Days before the tea leaves were ready to be plucked, Liu Guoying, a tea master in the city of Wuyishan in East China's Fujian Province, is hard at work giving training sessions to teach farmers techniques for plucking and processing tea.

Liu, 52, an expert in the Wuyi Rock Tea processing technique, always fills the house during his workshops: sometimes a single lecture can attract as many as 500 local tea farmers.

Preparing Wuyi Rock Tea, a type of oolong tea, was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage of China in 2006.

Liu's connection to the tea industry dates back 20 years, when he was assigned to work at tea farms as one of the first technology counselors in the city of Nanping in the province, helping local farmers improve tea cultivation and processing techniques.

Passing on knowledge 

Liu buried himself in research on tea plantations, trying to uncover reasons for the poor yields and low quality of Wuyi Rock Tea.

After years of hard work, he has developed new rock tea planting and processing methods that can efficiently upgrade the industry.

In order to pass on his expertise, Liu has also compiled a pamphlet on Wuyi Rock Tea production and offered it to local farmers and enterprises for free.

His efforts have paid off. The unique oolong tea has become a phenomenon in China's domestic marketplace. Thousands of local farmers have cast off poverty by planting and trading Wuyi Rock Tea.

Zhang Xiyou is also a technology counselor who specializes in ecological tea plantations. With the tea harvest season approaching, he spends all day patrolling an experimental tea plantation of a local tea company.

Zhang has vowed not to use any chemical fertilizer or pesticides to produce organic tea, which is much sought after by China's high-income consumers. To control pests, he has installed color plates and pheromone traps on the plantation.

In his experimental tea garden, sprouts are popping out of the ground among rows of tea trees.

"We are testing whether interplanting flowers and tea trees can both increase yields and add to the beauty of the plantation," Zhang said.

According to Lin Fang, a government official of the city of Wuyishan, around one-third of the latest cohort of technology counselors, who range from scientists from top research institutes to local agronomists, have been dispatched to tea plantations.

Beyond farms

Scientists from top institutions, along with crop specialists of local agricultural authorities, have been sent to villages and factories in rural areas to promote rural development.

Jiayuan, a dairy farm in Nanping, has been equipped with modern facilities such as a fully enclosed cowshed, an intelligent ventilation system and an intelligent dry manure cleaning system with the help of technology counselors from top institutions in Shanghai, Nanjing and Fuzhou.

Wang Zongshou, a farm management expert stationed at the farm, has helped build a wastewater treatment system and a manure workshop, which not only conserves water but also solves pollution problems.

With the renovated sewerage system, the amount of water used on the farm has been reduced by a third. Wang's goal is to develop an ecological farming model tailored to the local situation.

"I am glad that my expertise can make a change. This is the most satisfying thing in my work," Wang said.

The city of Nanping has stationed 9,483 technology counselors to local villages and factories, having helped lift all of the city's registered impoverished residents out of poverty by the end of 2017.

In 2016, the State Council, the country's cabinet, issued a guideline to promote Nanping's technology counseling practices nationwide as an innovative mechanism for poverty alleviation and rural revitalization.

China will continue to work vigorously to reduce poverty and lift no fewer than ten million people out of poverty in 2019 to lay a solid foundation for winning the battle against poverty.

Figures from the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development show that the new approach to poverty relief of developing emerging industries in poor areas such as e-commerce, photovoltaics and country tourism has paid off. Infrastructure development in poor areas has been accelerated. 

Some 208,000 kilometers of rural roads were built or renovated in 2018. 

New progress was made in upgrading the power grid in poor areas, and 94 percent of poor villages are now covered by broadband internet services.


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