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Farmers Benefit from Poverty-relief Project
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A poverty-relief project has been helping farmers in Chongqing Municipality and Hebei, Anhui, Henan and Shaanxi provinces get richer since it started in February 2001.

The project, initiated by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Cooperation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), was designed to develop new farming skills among farmers in the above areas using information and communication technologies.

To date, five counties, 10 townships and 22 villages in these regions have set up technology centers, according to sources from a workshop on Rural Poverty Alleviation via Information and Communication Technology, which opened in Chongqing yesterday.

Villagers can research new growing and breeding techniques and marketing information through these technology centers.

Farmers have greatly benefited from the project. For instance, the Women's Shoe-making Society in central China's Anhui Province sold more than 260,000 pairs of bamboo slippers to a hotel in Shanghai last year, said Wang Zhe, an official of the Rural Development Center of the Ministry of Science and Technology.

In Yulin of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, pig-raising villagers increased their incomes by an average of 2,500 yuan (US$301) in 2002 over the previous year, thanks to marketing information they obtained through a technology center.

The project, expected to be completed in February next year, will teach more farmers advanced skills, Wang said.

The UNDP has also started projects in China covering distance education, health care and the creation of business opportunities in poor and remote areas using computers, UNDP official Macleod Nyirongo was quoted as saying at the workshop by a news release from the Ministry of Science and Technology.

Wang said the ministry and the UNDP are pushing forward projects in Harbin in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, Jingzhou in central China's Hubei Province, and Yantai and Qingdao in east China's Shandong Province, to help raise the processing quality of beans, vegetables, apples and peanuts.

(China Daily January 18, 2003)

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