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Rustic charm creates tourism boom for farmers

Pub Date:2020-07-09 15:55 Source:China Daily

HEFEI-Liu Shengxian, a farmer in Anhui province, did not expect that planting rice would be of interest to visitors from the city.

His hamlet of Daoyuan in Yunfeng village, Anqing, recently held a rice-planting festival that drew tourists from far and wide to experience rural life.

The visitors were excited to take pictures of Liu and his buffalo working in the paddy fields. Liu's humble home, fashioned out of rammed earth and bamboo from the forest behind it, also amazed the tourists.

"They're willing to spend money on experiencing country life. The world has really changed," the 73-year-old said with surprise.

The ancient village, tucked away in the Dabie Mountains, was once connected to the outside world by a dirt track 2 meters wide. Villagers lived in rammed-earth dwellings and only ate what they produced on their small plots of land in the hills.

In 2014, half of the 14 families in the village, including Liu's, were identified as impoverished households.

At the time, Liu's main wishes were that the dirt road be repaired and that he could borrow enough money to tear down his house and build a new one.

However, changes in the village, which is under the jurisdiction of Huangwei town, disrupted his plans.

With its bucolic surroundings and traditional dwellings, the village began to develop a tourism model to help local households rise out of poverty.

"My first impression of the village was that it was poor but unique," said Shu Hanbing, former Party chief of Huangwei, who was in charge of the protection and development of the old hamlet.

In 2016, it was included on the list of traditional villages in China. Instead of being demolished, the old houses were preserved for their rustic charm.

"The ancient village and dwellings should be preserved, but poverty should be cast off," Shu said.

"While protecting the village, we developed it moderately, so that villagers can benefit and their farming and way of life can continue for another several decades."

After three years of development work, all the poor households in the village have been lifted out of poverty. The dirt track has been transformed into a road 5 meters wide.

Thanks to the poverty-relief relocation program, a resettlement site has been built along the road outside the village, with two-story buildings surrounded by mountains and rivers. Among them is Liu's new house.

Liu has acquired shares in his old house and his land has been transferred to the operating company.

"The company hired me to farm and I can earn about 50,000 yuan ($7,070) a year," Liu said.

He also has a tea garden and sells products to tourists to earn extra money.



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