Work in Mainland China
Lift Farmers out of Poverty - Planting Training Improves Fruit Farmers’ Livelihood in Mainland China
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Agricultural development cannot keep pace with that of the city in the Mainland. Farmers began to make a living in urban areas, while the women left behind became the major farm workforce. Many women lack the knowledge of science and management skills, which result in poor harvests and affect their income. Madam Zhao’s family is an example - they became a poverty-stricken farm household for various reasons including illnesses. A small fruit farm was no longer sufficient to support a family of five. Two years ago, The Salvation Army began to provide training on fruit growing, helping a hundred fruit farmers including Madam Zhao to boost their income, thus improving their quality of life.
 
Madam Zhao lives in Tielu Village of Mengjin County in Luoyang City, Henan Province. Her husband, almost 70, failed to find odd jobs due to his old age. Madam Zhao’s son and daughter-in-law were too sick to work. Even with the government’s living allowances, the whole family’s livelihood still relies on the meagre income from the 65-year-old grandmother Madam Zhao, who works tirelessly in a small pear orchard.
 
Low Tech, Low Income
 
“Our pear trees only took up a 0.6 acre of land. I didn’t know how to plant, so I just followed what the others did.” Two years ago, a year’s hard work of Madam Zhao yielded a harvest of 1,000 kg of pears, which were sold at a total of RMB 2,000. But as soon as the money was received, she had no choice but to hand it all over to the hospital for her daughter-in-law’s annual medical fee. “The pears were too small, so they were not sold at a very good price.” At this point, Madam Zhao tried to hold back her tears, just the way she had borne the heavy burden of her family.
 
The only comfort for Madam Zhao was her 10-year-old granddaughter. “My granddaughter studies well. The teachers like her a lot. She is a considerate girl. She always helps me with chores after school.” Madam Zhao paused, and went on, “She told me she wanted a pair of roller skates, because she saw her classmates skating at school. But they cost RMB 90, too expensive for me to afford them...”
 
Training Helps Double The Harvest
 
Madam Zhao’s situation provided a glimpse into the problems shared by many other local fruit farmers. The Salvation Army has launched poverty alleviation projects in many places of Luoyang City, and fruit farmers are one of the beneficiaries. Upon assessment of the farmers’ needs, The Army started to work with two local organisations to implement the Women Fruit Planting Training Project in four counties. The training provided to 100 fruit farmers included information on techniques which could be applied, field practices and advanced planting tools; with the trainer being on hand to answer the farmer’s questions. After each training session, Madam Zhao would try the new techniques in her own farm. She said, “Now I can save more money for my family and my fruit trees yield better, bigger fruit.”
 
The harvest of Madam Zhao’s pear trees has doubled to 2,000 kg, boosting the total income to almost RMB 6,000. She has now taken on another 1.8 acre of farmland to plant vegetables. It is expected to increase their annual income by RMB 10,000! “Last time, before the examinations of my granddaughter, I told her I would buy her a pair of roller skates if she could get good results.” Talking about this, Madam Zhao beamed. “She studied really hard and did very well! So I bought her the skates. She was thrilled! That night, she put them on and skated around at home!” Madam Zhao delightfully told us her hope for the future, “Next year when we make a profit, I will buy a fridge, an air-conditioner...”
 

Extend The Project And Benefit More Fruit Farmers
 
Henan Province is one of the provinces with the largest number of migrant rural labourers. Luoyang City is a typical city of imbalanced urban-rural development in the Province. Many villages and counties are desperate for support. The Salvation Army’s Women Fruit Planting Training Project has been highly recommended by the citizens over the past two years. The neighbouring poor areas are also applying for the project implementation. The Salvation Army hopes to extend the project further, lifting more farmers out of poverty and improving their lives.
 
After receiving the trainin...
Participants pay attention ...
The project provides field ...
Madam Zhao can afford a pai...