A Greener Village and More Prosperous Residents
In Tianlong Village in Luzhou County, Yulin City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, we find ourselves amongst a scene of otherworldly beauty, surrounded by mountains and enveloped in clouds. With spring in the air, this feels like a place that holds great promise.
Growing moderate prosperity
Tianlong Village is the home of garlic chives and the largest garlic chive planting base in Guangxi. Its exceptional geographic conditions make it perfect for growing luscious garlic chives, whose sweet and fresh flavor is a big hit with consumers.
Liang Guangbin, a 53-year-old Tianlong resident and leader for achieving prosperity in the village, explains, "This patch here, which is 25 mu (1.66 hectares), is under my cultivation. It can be cut about ten times a year, with a yield of around 1,000 kilos per cut. In a year, each mu of land yields about 10,000 kilos. Subtracting costs such as land rent and labor, that's a net profit of between 10,000 and 20,000 yuan per mu. I was one of the first in the village to plant garlic chives. When people saw how profitable it was, everyone was spurred to do the same. All of the twenty plus poor households that followed my lead have shaken off poverty, and have been able to build new houses and buy new cars. My annual net income from planting garlic chives is about 300,000 yuan."
As we follow Liang to his home, two large villas with a truck and car parked outside come into view. "Garlic chives paid for these buildings and vehicles," Liang says with a broad smile on his tanned face.
But this kind of happiness came from hard work. Growing garlic chives is a laborious task. When the weather is hot, plants need to be watered at night. Villagers get up at about two or three in the morning to cut the chives and take them home to be sorted and washed before shipping them out for sale. These fresh green chives have become an effective tool for building wealth among many villagers and carry their hopes of achieving moderate prosperity. According to statistics, the annual average net income of garlic chive growers is as high as 21,800 yuan. As the villagers vividly describe it, they have "grown moderate prosperity out of the ground." In 2019, all poor households in Tianlong Village shook off poverty.
Tianlong Village in Luchuan County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE PUBLICITY DEPARTMENT OF THE CPC LUCHUAN COUNTY COMMITTEE
Developing a beautiful countryside
For the people of Tianlong, moderate prosperity includes a thriving eco-environment. Entering Tianlong, one finds a village nestled amid hills and flowing water with a delightful patchwork of dwellings and vying blossoms of sunflowers among the rich greenery.
However, the village wasn't like this in the past. Before, the village roads were narrow and overgrown with weeds; fowl kept by the villagers roamed freely, with droppings covering the roads and public spaces. The village's dilapidated houses made for a chaotic scene. As their economic conditions improved, residents decided they had had enough of their village's rundown appearance. The only question was what direction would the improvements take? The answer lay in the beautiful countryside initiative.
Ye Yong, secretary of the village CPC branch, explains, "When the central authorities launched the beautiful countryside initiative, local CPC committees made corresponding work plans. After discussions, we decided to develop a village with rich regional characteristics, a place where people could take in the surrounding mountains and rivers and still appreciate the original character of our hometown."
"Listen to the instructions of the Party, follow its lead, take action, and do it well." This motto created by the people of Tianlong to sum up the local mentality is displayed on the wall in the village's Party member activity center.
As the "beautiful community" initiative began in earnest under the leadership of the Party branch, villagers engaged in fundraising and cleaned up the local living environment, while preserving historical structures such as stone buildings and artillery towers to retain the village's original character. A comprehensive greening project was carried out to develop a distinctively local green environment. After undergoing a full makeover, Tianlong's unattractive appearance was completely transformed. "Now, we don't need to go anywhere to find beautiful scenery. It's right outside our door," said one villager proudly.
Blazing a new path of promise
Creating a beautiful village with a pleasant living environment was just the first step for Tianlong's residents. They also harbored ambitions for tourism. Amid the clear waters and charming hills are a set of steps in the village that lead to a cave about halfway up a mountain. The cool breeze inside the cave is like a natural air conditioner. The cave has been converted into a movie theater, a lounge where people can drink tea and chat, and a viewing platform to enjoy the views outside. Relying on its unique geographical environment, Tianlong Village is exploring new ways to break into the market. It has made bold moves to attract private investment, fully tapped into the village's advantages with respect to ecological conservation, leisure and sightseeing, cultural experiences, and health and eldercare, and improved the level of its tourism products and markets by creating a demo zone for village tourism. Apart from the cave tourist site, it has also built mountain villas, guest-houses, swimming pools, outdoor bar areas, and fishing areas. In addition, it is in the process of building gardens, a village history center, a public canteen, a village academy, and a tourist center. The goal of Tianlong's residents is to turn their village into the city of Yulin's beautiful backyard. Through the tourist industry, the people of Tianlong have managed to broaden their path to moderate prosperity.
The metamorphosis of Tianlong, an ordinary rural village in the western region, is a reflection of China's rural revitalization, which is steadily unfolding across this vast country of 9.6 million square kilometers like a magnificent canvas.
(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 17, 2020)