Dedicated villager helps lift peers out of poverty

By WU YONG in Shenyang | (China Daily) | Updated : 2023-02-08

For the past decade, Zhang Guixian has worked hard to improve her life and that of the village she lives in.

Zhang and a hundred other residents in Jianguo village have struck up a cooperative together where they raise dairy cows. The endeavor has improved the livelihoods of the villagers, whose annual per capita income has risen from 6,690 yuan ($993) in 2011 to 50,000 yuan in 2021.

"She is not only diligent, but also willing to help others. Her success sets a good example for rural women and families to follow," said Chang Yan, the former chairwoman of the women's federation of Wuhuanchi town in Fumeng county, Liaoning province, where the village is located.

Jianguo village, in the northeastern part of Fumeng, was once impoverished because of a lack of arable land.

Chang recalled that Zhang started her business from just two cows in 2000, and that six years later the number had risen to 17.

"We wanted to follow her and raise cows too but we had no startup money at the beginning. It was very hard to obtain a loan from the bank at that time in the countryside," recalled Zhang Yumei, a fellow villager from Jianguo.

The warmhearted Zhang Guixian lent out her calves and helped 10 villagers obtain a loan of 500,000 yuan with Chang Yan's assistance.

In 2007, Zhang Guixian set up the farmers' cooperative with dozens of villagers to develop the cow business.

Zhang Guixian and her team now have a 30,000-square-meter farm equipped with a modern milking barn, dung yard and cowshed.

The cooperative tends to 750 cows, producing 10.3 metric tons of fresh milk per day.

Jianguo village has become one of the largest raw milk suppliers in western Liaoning.

Zhang Guixian was elected as director of the village committee in 2016 and as a delegate of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China last year.

"For a decade she's got up early in the morning and rested late at night. She made a fortune with her own hands. We trust her," said Zhang Yumei, whose husband works for the cooperative.

Li Hongbiao, a senior researcher at the China Academy of Northeast Revitalization, said that Zhang Guixian provides a very good example of rural vitalization.

"Her business provides opportunities for hundreds of villagers to work and earn money at home while taking care of the elderly and children," said Li.

The report of the 20th National Congress of the CPC proposes that the central government will prioritize the development of agriculture and rural areas, and adhere to the integration of urban and rural development. This promises a bright future for prosperity in the countryside, said Zhang Guixian.

According to Liaoning authorities, the province has invested hundreds of millions of yuan in small loans for rural women to develop planting, breeding and food processing businesses.

"I am only an ordinary farmer. I will do what I can to help farmers create a happy life with our own hands," said Zhang Guixian.

Yue Qizhen contributed to this story.

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