A project to enrich poverty-stricken farmers in China is proving to be a huge success.
One example of this prosperity is Wang Congyi, an ordinary farmer in the Hanbin District of Ankang in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province. Several years ago, he bought an oil press to extract oil for other villagers.
This year, he is expected to reap US$846 (7,000 yuan) from this sideline. In Hanbin, one of the poorest regions in China, this is an enormous sum.
"Without attending the micro-finance project of the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, this would have been impossible for me," said Wang.
The project, called "Farmers' Self-independence Capacity Building Project," lends money to help poor farmers' become more affluent.
So far, Wang has been given three loans from the project - US$121 (1,000 yuan) each time.
Wang is not the only person to have benefited from the micro-finance project. At present, a total of 11,746 farming households in Hanbin are being assisted by the project. By the end of June, approximately US$2.5 million (20.7 million yuan) had been loaned to farmers.
Statistics indicate that the income of 80 percent of the borrowers had increased by at least 50 percent.
Thanks to the project, 98 percent participating farmers have solved their prior problem of a lack of food and clothing, according to the foundation.
Apart from Hanbin, the foundation has launched similar projects in five other counties in Southwest China with cooperation of the World Bank and Huaxia Bank. The method of such cooperation varies in different regions.
Any farmer in the six counties can apply for a loan. However, before getting the loan, ranging from US$121 (1,000 yuan) to US$363 (3,000 yuan), they need to draw up detailed profit models - how they are going to use the loan to earn money.
Cash is not the only benefit farmers can get from the project. Courses where attendants can learn useful skills are also available.
Although China has one of the fastest-growing urban economies in the world, more than 85 per cent of the population remains in rural areas.
Rural production has been limited by a lack of access to reliable, affordable credit to purchase equipment and to invest in small, off-farm, income-generating activities.
China's mainstream rural financial institutions provide credit mainly to the government, to purchase staple crops, and to rural and State collectives and large enterprises.
(China Daily 10/03/2001)