Poverty alleviation remains a formidable task in Baisha Li autonomous county, which used to an extremely impoverished county in South China’s Hainan Province.
“It’s all the more important for us to preserve lucid waters and lush mountains, our greatest assets, in order to bring about high-quality development,” said Liu Wei, Party chief of the county.
Located in the heart of the island province, Baisha covers an area of about 2,117 square kilometers, about 57.9 percent of which has been delimited as “red lines” for ecological conservation. The county aims to build itself into an ecotourism area and a base for eco-agriculture and help people shake off poverty by developing the ecological industry.
In 2015, Baisha began the migration process for its first relocation village for poverty alleviation by ecological protection. In January 2017, the residents of the last two villages in remote mountains moved to a relocation village equipped with better facilities, including townhouses and a standard basketball court. Their original homes became part of the Yinggeling national natural reserve. The county built houses for these resettled people for free and some of them have become forest rangers. According to statistics, the county’s forest coverage rate exceeded 81 percent this year.
Since 2014, Party and government organs at various levels, enterprises and public institutions in Hainan have teamed up with the province’s poor areas to reduce poverty. The Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Science (CATAS) in Danzhou city has paired up with Baisha.
Wang Kai, an assistant research fellow at CATAS, has become the fourth first secretary in charge of poverty alleviation in Yongchu village of the county’s Qingsong township, replacing his predecessor Huang Haijie, a plant breeding expert from the same academy.
CATAS experts developed better tilling methods for new types of Shanlan rice, an old strain of rice that was planted by locals in Qingsong, doubling the output of the healthy and nutritious grain. In addition, its price is also rising.
By building an ecotourism platform, Baisha has made Shanlan rice a sought-after eco-friendly agricultural product. In just a few years, about 333.3 hectares of Shanlan rice have been planted, including about 266.6 hectares in Qingsong.
In early 2020, all 44 impoverished villages in Baisha were lifted out of poverty. Last year, the annual per capita income of rural residents in the county reached 12,912 yuan.
Baisha has also strived to strengthen brand-building for the agriculture sector through optimizing agricultural structure. The county’s agricultural departments have hired specialized teams, supported professional cooperatives, improved the industrial chain, cultivated characteristic brands, and implemented an integrated business model of production, supply and marketing.
Thanks to these efforts, Baisha has fostered 17 brands for agricultural products certified by China, and built the first county-level e-commerce industrial park in Hainan.
In November 2018, the county released a public brand for local agricultural products, including green tea, honey, and blood orange. These products have become highly sought-after on e-commerce platforms, helping locals increase their incomes and live prosperous lives.