For Niu Yuqin to win a prestigious UN award was a pleasant surprise. "I never thought I would win the 'Doctor Rao Award' for what little I have done in planting trees and grass to fight the invasion of sand-storms," said the woman farmer held up as a model in desert control in north-western Shaanxi Province.
Niu is known far and wide as a solitary desert controller over the years. For her outstanding achievements, she was granted the "Doctor Rao Award" by the Asia-Pacific Office of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization.
"The honor can but serve as a source of encouragement for me to continue to build on what I have achieved," she said.
At present, Niu is no longer a solitary desert controller. She is now board chairwoman and general manager of the Shaanxi Luyuan Desert Control Co, which was formed last year to engage in desert control and breeding.
She used a loan of 400,000 yuan (US$48,200) to build an immigrants village replete with water and electricity supply and roads and 24 households have moved to the village and become members of her company.
She also built a primary school for the children of the villagers, hoping that they would become well-educated successors to the cause of desert control.
She earned 10,000 yuan from the grass and trees she planted last year and the 24 households also bid farewell to poverty.
"When more and more people join in the desert control efforts, the sky over Beijing will get brighter and sandstorms will be far away from us. The 2008 Olympics then will be a 'green Olympics' true to its name," Niu said in Beijing last week attending the NPC session.
(eastday.com March 29, 2002)