Bamboo economy: Greening the mountain while enriching locals' lives in SW China
By Zhao Ying
Zhenxiong County in southwest China's Yunnan Province is never short of rainfall. It sees about 300 cloudy and rainy days in a year, which is perfect for bamboos to grow.
In recent years, the local government has been urging villagers to return farmlands to bamboo forests for the sake of ecological protection. The bamboo economy has also helped poverty alleviation in the county.
After a spring rain, many bamboo shoots break through the soil. Once it grows to dozens of centimeters, it is ready to be picked.
Hong Qifu is busy collecting bamboo shoots in his 20-hectare bamboo forest. Each year, he can harvest bamboo shoots three times. Hong currently earns about 20,000 yuan each harvest season, making nearly 60,000 yuan a year. He expects to earn 500,000-600,000 yuan in three-four years.
In the past, farmers like Hong had to ship bamboo shoots to nearby Sichuan Province to sell – two to four yuan per kilo back then. In 2015, Heijinghe Biotechnology Co., Ltd. built the bamboo shoots processing factory in the county.
Today, farmers can make direct deliveries to the factory, largely reducing transport costs and lifting the price. The company would then sell bamboo shoot products to other parts of China and even export.
As of 2019, there are 40,000 hectares of bamboo forest in the county, helping low-income families generate an extra income of 8,000 yuan. In 2020, the local government plans to convert another 26,667 hectares of land into bamboo forests, thereby aiding an underprivileged population of over 160,000.
Go green and live rich
Ecological poverty alleviation combines ecological protection with poverty alleviation. Some areas suffer from poverty due to a harsh natural environment, while some lack the sustainable and scientific use of natural resources. Through participation in ecological protection and the development of ecological industries, villagers can be lifted out of poverty while protecting nature. This series not only uncovers the stories behind China's poverty alleviation policy, but also displays portraits of ordinary people.