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War against poverty in NW China farmlands

Xinhua, February 17, 2017 Adjust font size:

Rather than on campus, Professor Li Bingzhi's office is on a stretch of farmland.

Li, 61, is a professor from Northwest Agriculture and Forest University in China's Shaanxi Province. In 2012, he went to isolated Qianyang County to popularize the latest apple cultivation technologies, among local fruit farmers.

Each year, he spends nearly 300 days in the orchards.

"I impart the latest cultivation technology to farmers, face to face. It is our duty to help farmers out of poverty," Li said.

Over 25,000 of Qianyang's 8,000-plus households in 2016 still lived under the poverty line, meaning they survived on an annual income of about 3,000 yuan (440 U.S. dollars) per capita.

In the past year, Li and his team organized more than 30 cultivation technology training activities, benefiting more than 8,000 local fruit farmers.

The area of apple orchards in Qianyang has tripled to 100,000 mu (6,700 hectares) since 2012, with apple output per mu rising from 500 kilograms to 2,000 kilograms, bringing the annual income of local farmers up to 50,000 yuan.

"The projects with less investment and quick earnings can really help farmers out of poverty," Li said. "This year, we are determined to help them reduce the costs of planting by half, by breeding high-quality fruit trees."

Thanks to the sound technology application environment, Qianyang has attracted several large agriculture enterprises to set up fruit manufacturing factories in recent years, creating more job opportunities.

The introduction of talent also brings local farmers new sales channels for fresh produce. E-commerce is booming in the poverty-hit region.

Han Xiao is a household name in Shanyang County. In 2015, he started his online shop on Taobao, a shopping platform of China's e-commerce giant Alibaba, receiving lots of orders for his latest local honey products.

More farmers followed Han's success. In Shanyang, online sales hit 1 billion yuan in 2016, creating more than 2,300 jobs and helping 560 families out of poverty.

"E-commerce in rural areas has become an increasingly important means of reforming agricultural development and helped reduce poverty," said Zhang Hong, professor with Xi'an University of Posts & Telecommunications.

Shaanxi expects to achieve its 2017 target of lifting 885,000 people out of poverty. In order to win the war against poverty, local governments have adopted means such as e-commerce, financing, industry, relocation and improvement of infrastructure.