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New careers fuel rural empowerment in China

Xinhua, June 14, 2022 Adjust font size:

A buzzing fleet of agricultural spraying drones hover over wheat fields in Guwei Village of Lujiang County in east China's Anhui Province, applying pesticides efficiently and precisely.

A rare scene in the past, this is now a common sight in many parts of rural China. Yu Xiaojun, 28, is one of the farmers-turned-drone operators.

In April 2016, Yu founded an agricultural machinery services cooperative in partnership with his friends to provide services including plowing, sowing, crop protection and harvest for large-scale farms.

"Large-scale farming needs the support of science and technology," Yu said.

The cooperative now has over 100 sets of machinery and equipment and more than 20 staff members, serving three counties. Many young people go to Yu to learn how to fly drones.

Yu is among the many farmers in China who are forging new career paths for themselves. From drone operators to social media influencers, new types of occupations taken on by Chinese farmers not only bring higher incomes but also inject new life into China's rural revitalization.

As a short-video craze sweeps China, many farmers are becoming enthusiastic about sharing their lives online. Livestreaming has become a new farming tool, allowing farmers to reap the benefits by sell goods directly to urban consumers.

Holding a plate of dried sweet potatoes, Zhang Chuanfeng stood in front of a mobile phone mounted on a tripod, introducing the local delicacy.

The 40-year-old farmer stands at 1.4 meters tall and was worried about his future after struggling in various jobs due to his height. However, his transition from farmer to an online entrepreneur was a success.

With the support of the local government, Zhang rented a stall and opened his online business. To improve his marketing skills, he attended training courses and learned from other online streamers.

In April 2020, Zhang started livestreaming sales by showcasing local specialties from Tangjiahui Township of Jinzhai County, his mountainous hometown.

The products received positive feedback from the market and that encouraged Zhang to include more types of local specialties in his sales.

His hard work paid off. Zhang is now an internet sensation with over 90,000 followers on the short-video platform Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok. He raked in 5 million yuan (about 785,000 U.S. dollars) in sales of local specialties in 2021.

He also volunteered to help locals sell other products including honey, organic eggs and fish through livestreaming.

"Through my efforts, I have lifted my family out of poverty and bought a car and an apartment, which was unimaginable before," Zhang said.

"Compared to professional livestreamers, we are just at the primary stage," Zhang said. "I hope more professionals will join us and we can build our brand."

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