Young Chinese bring new vitality to farmlands

CHANGSHA -- Watching the excavators working on the field, 35-year-old Li Guojing plans to build six intelligent vegetable greenhouses this year.

Having graduated with a master's degree from Shandong Agricultural University in 2013, he worked in other places for a period of time. In 2015, Li returned to his hometown, a village in east China's Shandong Province to start his own cultivation business.

Apart from cultivating ornamental chickens at the beginning, he later developed a variety of poultry farms and fruit tree planting, and set up Muzi Farm Ecological Agriculture Technology Co., Ltd.

The investment required for planting greenhouse vegetables, however, is huge, and it costs 2 million yuan (about $282,800) to build the greenhouse alone. However, Li is full of confidence.

"I majored in vegetable water and fertilizer integration technology, and vegetables are a necessity for people to live," he said.

At present, Li and his partners have planted landscape trees and fruit trees on part of the newly contracted 13.3 hectares of land. The rest are vegetable greenhouses under construction. Different from ordinary vegetable planting, Li cooperated with Shandong Agricultural University to make vegetable greenhouses one of the experimental bases and practice bases of the university.

"We can achieve intelligent management in the new greenhouses including irrigation, temperature and humidity control, and we will also explore some nutritional formulas in the future," Li said.

Not far from Li's village, 33-year-old Liu Chao, head of a family farm, is also planning a new project. "This year, I plan to install some deep-processing equipment to process dried sweet potato or its starch, so as to extend the industrial chain and improve our profit margin," Liu said.

Liu, born in 1987, returned to work in the farmland in 2015 after quitting his job in a state-owned enterprise in the Yangtze River Delta for three years. Today, a total of 53.3 hectares of wheat and 20 hectares of carrots are planted in his farm, and he is preparing to plant another 60 hectares of sweet potatoes.

While focusing on diversified planting, Liu also has innovative sales ideas, including moving his market to online platforms. Relying on online marketing, after the Spring Festival this year, 280,000 kg of sweet potatoes harvested from Liu's farm were sold out in just over half a month.

Recently, Liu posted a notice on WeChat, a popular social massaging app in China, to recruit two people with a college degree or above, requiring candidates to be good at using WeChat and live broadcasting platforms to explore more e-commerce channels.

Nowadays, more and more young people in China return to their hometowns to start their own businesses and become new types of farmers. With professional skills and novel ideas of management, they are bringing new vitality to China's rural economic development.

Yu Chao, 33, a native of the county-level city of Ningxiang, central China's Hunan province, has built a modern comprehensive farm integrating ecological agriculture, production and sales of green products, rural tourism and characteristic catering in his hometown.

Yu set up a poverty alleviation workshop to provide employment opportunities for the local poor households in order to increase their incomes.

"Each of the over 200 impoverished households we help has seen annual income growth of more than 4,000 yuan," Yu said.

So far this year, the epidemic has reduced the number of farm visitors by more than 70 percent, but normal production continues. "We are using WeChat to show and promote our agricultural products," said Yu, adding that he will continue to lead the villagers to realize common prosperity.

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