Experts work to modernize rural agriculture through tech
By Meng Qingsheng

China has made rural vitalization a priority to promote growth in the countryside over the next five years. Initiatives in science and technology are being introduced in less developed rural areas to promote modern agriculture.

In Nujiang Prefecture of southwest China's Yunnan Province, a team of experts has applied their expertise to help villagers grow mandarin oranges.

Dr. Li Jinxue from the Yunnan Academy of Agricultural Sciences is one of 40 experts helping people in Laowo Town of Lushui County combat poverty. In less than two years, however, Li has turned the place into a land of treasures.

The mountainous terrains had greatly hindered economic growth, and most of the area used to be covered with wild grass. Locals used to adhere to traditional planting methods, and most of the seedlings were infected with viruses. Many of their trees failed to blossom or bear any fruit for four or five years because of limited technological support.

"The place is gifted with resources such as rich sunshine, water, and fresh air. It's an ideal place to grow late season mandarins. We've selected 31 varieties of mandarins to demonstrate and to screen out the most suitable ones," Li told CGTN.

Li and his team have brought in modern farming expertise to improve fruit production here. They teach villagers things like using drip irrigation for better soil humidity and improving mechanization for better work efficiency. They've also deployed drones to monitor tree growth and help prevent plant diseases and pests.

"As an agricultural expert, by working together with villagers, you have to set a real example for them. You need to make them realize that agriculture is more about modern technology, not traditional slash-and-burn methods," said Li.

After meeting its target of ending extreme poverty last year, China has shifted the focus of its pastoral work towards rural vitalization. The strategy was proposed back in 2017, mainly to tackle urban-rural economic disparities. And a key component is to modernize the rural economy by supporting innovations in science and technology.

The target date for China's rural vitalization strategy is 2035. It aims to achieve thriving businesses, a pleasant living environment, social etiquette and civility, effective governance and prosperity.

Now, the mandarin farming cooperative covers around 200 hectares of land. It employs more than one hundred local families, most of whom were hard hit by poverty. He Chunxiu comes from one such family. She gets extra income, around 80 yuan (about $12.4) a day, working part-time in the orchard.

"Before the program was launched, we mainly planted millet and corn. Our income was not that high, and it's difficult to earn enough income. Since the price of mandarins is higher, we don't need to work as hard as before, and we can earn a lot more," she said.

Li has guided villagers to plant chrysanthemums between the trees for extra gains. He says the happiest thing is to transfer their research results directly to the people and make a real difference for local communities.

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