Rural areas across China are about to join the green revolution thanks to a program aimed at developing sustainable energy resources and alleviating poverty.
The four-year Green Poverty Reduction in China program will feature three projects developed jointly by the United Nation Development Program (UNDP) in China and the central government.
With a budget of US$8.6 million, the program will help farmers in southwest China develop the seeds of a local tree that can be used as a bio-fuel. It will also encourage the cultivation of a plant used in Chinese traditional medicine in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and provide small wind turbines to herdsmen in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The UNDP provided US$2.3 million for the program. The rest came from the Ministry of the Science and Technology (MOST) and the local governments involved.
Under the program, poor farmers in southwest China's Guizhou, Yunnan and Sichuan provinces will be taught how to cultivate the Jatropha Curcas L tree, a wild tree whose seed can be processed into a bio-fuel.
Based on the technology available, a household that devotes 2 mu (about 1,333 square meters) of land to planting this tree is expected to generate annual income of 500 to 800 yuan (US$62.5 to 100), said program coordinator Xu Yunsong.
The project will also support the growth of Jarrah Dayun, a raw material in traditional Chinese medicine, in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
Large-scale involvement will facilitate the creation of a market for the farmers' goods, said Steve Ivatt, a consultant to the program and a staff member of the UK-based Clean Energy Consultant. Establishing a sustainable market chain that is fully accessible to the poor will reduce the potential risk of the project, Ivatt added.
(China Daily November 22, 2006)