"I had never thought I could get the 'Doctor Rao Award" for what little I have done in planting trees and grass to fight the invasion of sandstorms," said Niu Yuqin, a woman farmer held up as a model in desert control in northwest China's 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 Food and Agriculture Orgnization of the United Nation (UNFAO).
"The honor can but serve as a source of encouragement for me to continue to build on what I have achieved," she said.
Niu is here to attend the Fifth Session of the Ninth National People's Congress. When she heard that Beijing's weather is fine, she said: "That is what I'd like to hear."
At present, Niu is no longer a solitary desert controller, She is now board chairwoman and general manager of the Shaanxi Luyuan Desert Control Company. The company was formed last year to engagein desert control and breeding. She used a loan of 400,000 yuan 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 forthe children of the villagers, hoping that these children would become well-educated successors to the cause of desert control.
She earned 10,000 yuan from the grass and trees she has planted last year and the 24 households also bid farewell to poverty.
When asking why she started the company, she said that planting trees and grass need money and better economic returns would attract more people to the ecological projects. She told reporters that she has invited experts and technicians to give advice on how to raise tree survival rate and even imported some good species from abroad.
"To participate in the annual session of the National People's Congress and to plant trees are the two most important things for me," she said. "Ecological situation has always been a hot topic for discussion at the session and I want to share views with them."
"When more and more people pit in the desert control efforts, the sky over Beijing would get brighter and sandstorms would be farther away from us. The 2008 Olympics would be a 'green Olympics' true to its name," she said, looking out of the window.
(Xinhua News Agency March 4, 2002)