Guangming, a village located over 2,000 meters above the sea level in Yangbi Yi Autonomous County, Southwest China’s Yunnan Province, is known for its walnut production. It is home to 6,000 walnut trees with a history of over 100 years.
Eighty-three percent of the county’s land is covered by forests, and walnut has always been a pillar industry of it.
In recent years, the price of walnut dropped from 30 yuan ($4.4) per kilogram to around 10 yuan. Therefore, Guangming village shifted its development strategy, diverting its focus from walnut planting to eco-tourism.
Li Bin, a villager from Guangming who used to sell walnuts online, now runs an agritainment facility in the village. The experience of the man in his thirties is a witness to the development of Guangming village.
Poor transportation of the village was once a big problem for villagers. Fortunately, their livelihood was greatly improved after the village constructed hardened roads and held a walnut festival in 2008, which gave a great rise in the price of walnuts.
Li returned to Guangming village in 2014, selling walnut seedlings and other agricultural products online. However, the price of walnuts started to go down from then. In addition, walnuts trees are tall, so villagers had to hire professional workers to pick the fruits, which led to higher costs.
A year later, Guangming village introduced tourism enterprises to develop rural eco-tourism. Last year, the village saw tourism revenue of nearly 2 million yuan, and Li also joined the business, starting his own agritainment facility.
The development of Guangming village couldn’t have been achieved without the assistance from the local government. Since 2008, many projects were launched for the village, helping it establish its own transport network, parking lots and tourism restrooms. “Only by improving infrastructure can we show our beautiful environment to the outside world,” said Yang Xin, a publicity official of the county who works in Guangming village.
Due to the lack of planning and professional operation, the eco-tourism business was not running very well at the beginning. Thanks to the professional companies introduced by the village, modernized scenic areas were built, attracting more and more tourists.
Jiciping group of the village now has 75 people from 73 households working near home, whose income increased over 1.8 million yuan. Besides, 42 households earned more than 4 million yuan by renting or transferring a total of 10 hectares of land to tourism companies.
Besides, Yangbi’s government has organized a various of training sessions for residents, helping them improve their service quality. Yang Xueming, Party head of Guangming village, told the People’s Daily that the villagers have taken on a brand new look. They used to escape from communicating with visitors, but now they are enthusiastic about talking with out-of-towners, he added.
“Many of the villagers would skip villagers’ meetings before, but now they all want to join in case they miss any important information,” said Wei Dingkui, director of the village committee.
According to Yang Jian, deputy head of Guangming village’s eco-management committee, poaching and illegal logging vanished in the village. “Thanks to the afforestation efforts, we can always see wild animals. Besides, we also established two check points to prevent people from excavating the mountains,” he said.
So far, 8 committees have been established in Guangming village to manage rivers, roads, folk-customs, environment, ecology, planning, mediation and safety affairs. Members of these committees are all villagers.
Standard management of the village helps improve its image, said Ji Xiaodong, head of a company developing tourism in Guangming village, adding that ecological environment is as important as air.