More young people return to village amid rural revitalization campaign – Xinhua

A staff member works at an agricultural demonstration park in Gengdian Village of Liaocheng City, east China’s Shandong Province, Oct. 19, 2022. (Xinhua/Yuan Min)

JINAN, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) — Cao Youzhong’s cellphone has been ringing constantly lately as customers seek to buy his pears. Cao told them that all the pears had been sold out this season and they could place pre-orders for next year.

Cao, 34, worked in big cities after graduating from college in 2010, before returning to his rural hometown in eastern China’s Shandong province more than four years ago.

He built his own brand of garden products and became famous for his e-commerce business in Gengdian Village in Liaocheng City, managing 3.3 hectares of pears, six vegetable greenhouses and 11 grape greenhouses.

He had a bumper pear harvest this year, with a net income of 75,000 yuan (about US$10,550) per hectare. Its total net income, including that generated from vegetables and grapes, is expected to reach 420,000 yuan this year.

“Before, I used to earn a maximum of 8,000 yuan a month when I worked in cities, but now I earn much more,” Cao said.

Twenty years ago, residents depended on growing wheat and corn for a living, and their annual net income per capita was less than 3,000 yuan. This prompted many young villagers to move to the cities as migrant workers, leaving behind those who were mostly born in the 1950s and 1960s to tend to the farmlands.

In recent years, as China strives to push forward rural revitalization, nearly 120 youths born in the 1980s and 1990s in Gengdian Village have returned there from cities and joined the new generation of farmers. They have often brought back funds, modern farming concepts and e-commerce business models to help transform the farming landscape.

The small village of just over 800 inhabitants has set up a smart seedling factory, a fruit and vegetable cooperative, a packaging and processing factory, as well as a wholesale market to boost sales.

This thriving greenhouse industry generates considerable income and a high quality of life, which makes the village more attractive to young people who want to start their own business.

Geng Fujian was one of the beneficiaries. He quit his job at an electronics factory in Shenzhen’s southern manufacturing hub and returned to the village in 2010. The village helped him secure land and bank loans to build greenhouses, while technicians farmers directly taught him agricultural techniques.

Geng, 34, earned more than 400,000 yuan from growing chili peppers last year. “I earn more growing vegetables in greenhouses than working in the factory. There is not too much difference between rural and urban life. Also, I can stay closer to my parents and children and take care of them,” he said. said. “I now have a sense of fulfillment and happiness.”

The village regularly trains young farmers at a local agricultural demonstration park, where modern agricultural practices such as soilless cultivation, fertigation and automatic temperature control are applied.

“With the availability of modern agricultural practices, agricultural equipment and machinery, and a better environment for agricultural entrepreneurship, young farmers no longer need to work as hard as their previous generations,” Cao said.

Gengdian Village is the epitome of the country’s rural revitalization dynamic. Spurred and encouraged by this momentum, many clusters of specialized industries and modern agricultural parks are springing up across the country, with many younger generations returning to their hometowns – often with capital, technology and new ideas.

Innovation and entrepreneurial activities are becoming increasingly visible in rural China. Over the past decade, some 11.2 million people have returned to China’s rural areas to set up their own businesses, with each entity creating an average of six to seven stable jobs, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs.

Young farmers bring more dynamism to the village, Cao said. “I often chat with them about the ups and downs of the agricultural products market. I’m also looking for like-minded live-streaming teams to grow my e-commerce business,” he said.

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