South China's Guangxi finds way out of poverty through cattle industry
Du'an Yao Autonomous County is one of four extremely poor counties in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Long blighted by vast mountains, lack of farmland, and limited transportation, lifting Du'an out of poverty has been no easy task.
Most of the county is made up of karst mountainous areas, and the per capita cultivated land area is less than 0.7 mu (0.05 hectares). After in-depth research and pilot projects were carried out in many places, a new poverty alleviation model known as "cattle for cattle" was developed in 2016.
A farmer works at a forage grass processing plant in Dongmiao Township of Du'an Yao Autonomous County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. [People's Daily Online/Yan Lizheng]
Under the program, poor households raise calves of beef cattle provided by livestock companies using small poverty alleviation loans, either by themselves or in cooperatives. The livestock companies then buy them back when they are grown. More cattle are then loaned out, benefiting all involved.
Du’an has been focusing on the "cattle industry" in recent years, guiding the local people to get rid of poverty and improve their lives through raising cattle. All the remaining impoverished people in Du'an are expected to be lifted out of poverty by the third quarter of this year.
From family to collective
46 year-old Wei Guiqun is from the Yao ethnic group and a resident of Anning village of Dongmiao Township in Du'an. He has a heavy burden to shoulder in supporting his family of seven, which includes elderly parents and three school children.
The Chinese government began implementing its targeted poverty alleviation measures in 2013. Since then, local authorities have encouraged villagers to increase their incomes by raising cattle. At the beginning, Wei had only one cow to his name.
In 2017, Wei received a calf through the "cattle for cattle" project. The next year, he sold it for more than 11,000 yuan, earning a net profit of over 5,000 yuan. After tasting the benefits of the program, Wei has expanded the scale of breeding each year.
A farmer feeds his cattle in Anning Village of Dongmiao Township in Du'an Yao Autonomous County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region [People's Daily Online/Yan Lizheng]
"I have ten cattle at present. Three of them are pregnant and will give birth soon," Wei said, unable to hide his smile. He now plans to expand the number of his cattle to 30 in the near future.
But not all cattle are bred by farmers in small numbers. The local government also helps villagers carry out large-scale breeding by setting up cooperatives, where modern technologies such as automated feeding can be introduced to cut on costs. 19 township-level cattle farms and 247 village-level cooperatives have been built in Du'an, ensuring that all poor households are able to work in the animal husbandry industry.
After many years of hard work, the number of cattle in Du'an County has now reached 162,000, lifting 40 villages and 19,000 poor households out of poverty.
6S service model seeks to reduce risk
To help villagers better engage in animal husbandry and reduce the risks involved, the local government has introduced a 6S service model in Dongmiao Township of Du’an.
In order to support the families in their work, the government has introduced measures including cattle insurance, spreading knowledge of cattle disease prevention and control, breeding skills training and exchanges, and ensuring forage supply. These measures not only ease poor households' worries over cattle raising, but also ensure that development of the industry is stable and sustainable.
For instance, the local authority will pay 400 yuan in insurance fees for each loaned calf. If the cattle raised by poor households unexpectedly dies, the insurance company will provide compensation, and the poor households can receive calves again for free.
Workers at a beef processing plant at Jiahao company in Du'an Yao Autonomous County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. [People's Daily Online/Yan Lizheng]
Forage reserves are another crucial factor in cattle breeding. According to local official Lan Ganning, the number of cattle has been increasing since 2018, posing a great challenge in terms of securing forage supplies. Previously, when there was a shortage, farmers had to go to other places to buy them.
To ensure sufficient forage supplies, a forage processing plant was established in Dongmiao. Local people call it the "Forage Bank", where forage can be stored and circulated like currency.
Currently, the regular members of the "Forage Bank" in Dongmiao include six cattle-breeding cooperatives and five large-scale cattle breeding households, with a total of 1,700 mu of forage grass farmland, and an annual storage capacity of 5,000 tons.
Key role of leading enterprises
Breeding cattle not only benefits poor households, but also boosts industrial development in many parts of Guangxi, and the continuous improvement of the entire industry chain is also increasing the added value of the cattle industry.
Leading enterprises play a key role in boosting industrial poverty alleviation by coordinating production and sales.
Guangxi Du'an Jiahao Ind'l Co., Ltd, a company that focuses on large-scale cattle raising and processing, invested 200 million yuan in building an ecological cattle breeding demonstration park and 350 million yuan in the construction of a cold chain warehousing and logistics center, seamlessly connecting cattle breeding, slaughter, processing, and cold chain, and selling beef products through cold chain to all parts of China.
The company plays an active role in poverty alleviation work through the "cattle for cattle" project, with 50,000 calves expected to be distributed to 25,000 poor households in 2020.
A worker stores packaged beef in storage where the temperature is -30℃ at Jiahao company in Du'an Yao Autonomous County, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. [People's Daily Online/Yan Lizheng]
While playing the role of a transit hub from market to dining table, the company also provides 3,000 jobs directly or indirectly for local people.
43-year-old Tang Yuedan works at a beef processing plant of Jiahao company, together with her husband. The couple can earn 5,000 yuan per month, almost twice what they got when working as migrant workers before. "This place is near our home so we can also take care of the family, and our life is much better than before," said Tang.
In the foreseeable future, more calves will be raised by poor households, more poor people will be employed at logistics centers, and more beef will be sent to the tables of ordinary people across the country. The innovative "cattle for cattle" poverty alleviation model is paving the way for villages in cloud-shrouded mountains to move towards prosperity.
(Zeng Fan and Zhu Xiaoling contributed to the story)