Pioneer village of rural reform embraces new era

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, September 24, 2019
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Strolling through the restaurants and a tourist service center in Xiaogang village, Yan Hongchang, 70, recalled memories of a tense moment 41 years ago when he took a bold move that changed his life forever.

In the dim light of a kerosene lamp, Yan and 17 others in Xiaogang, Fengyang County in east China's Anhui Province, attended a covert meeting at a mud hut in the village. The farmers put their fingerprints on a land-contracting agreement that night, dividing communally owned farmlands into plots for each family to cultivate -- a move that broke the egalitarian agricultural system.

"To tell the truth, it was a pretty hairy moment, but I had no choice," Yan said. "At that time, I could not imagine that life would be so prosperous today."

Their adventure was proved a success.

Xiaogang used to be a poor village. With the reform, the village harvested 6.6 tonnes of grain the next year, which equaled the total output of the past decade for the village. The household contract responsibility system went national in a few years. Xiaogang was made the pioneer of China's rural reform and a model for the whole country to learn from.

Yan Yushan, Yan Hongchang's son, was only five years old and oblivious to what was happening when the big event took place in Xiaogang.

After working in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, the younger Yan went back to his hometown and set up a store on the Taobao e-commerce platform in late 2013, selling local specialties to consumers nationwide.

"Local specialties introduce today's Xiaogang to the public," said Yan Yushan, who was elected as the village cadre in charge of managing community and youth work one year later.

The annual income of the village's collective economy surged from approximately 3 million yuan (about 423,000 U.S. dollars) in 2011 to 10.2 million yuan in 2018.

In recent years, Xiaogang has conducted a share-holding reform of collective assets to inject new impetus into the rural economy and increase the incomes of farmers.

Eight joint-equity cooperative enterprises in tourism, eco-agriculture, technology and other fields were established in 2018, generating revenue of 3 million yuan for the village, according to Li Jinzhu, first Party secretary of the village.

"Xiaogang village has formulated a general tourism plan, aiming to become a 5A-level tourist spot and a town renowned for its uniqueness," Li said, adding Xiaogang will build a group of distinctive house hotels.

With about 4,000 residents, the village is diversifying its economy. "Our robots have been manufactured in a factory in Zhangjiagang," said Yan Yushan, referencing the coastal city in Jiangsu Province. "We will make the AI industry a pillar for Xiaogang in the future."

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