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Yuanyang Farmers’ Clubs Project

Source:Humana People to People ChinaDate:2014-05-06 00:00:00Click:1192

Project Background

Yunnan Province, Yuanyang County’s Shalatuo Township is relatively economically underdeveloped region.  The population consists of 49% Hani minority and 51% Yi minority, 95% of the population are engaged in agriculture. Shalatuo Township is divided into 7 administrative village committees and 48 village production groups, the village committees are: Aga, Fusai, Caoguodong, Manjianghe, Niuluo, Potou ,Xiaowo. Statistics from the end of 2010 showed the township had a total of 4900 households, with a  population of over 23,000. Many of the people here cannot speak mandarin; the primary means income is agriculture. In 2009 the average annual income per person was Rmb2060.

There is only one kindergarten in the entire township; consequently the majority of children here can only begin learning mandarin and Chinese characters when entering primary school at the age of 7. Most of the farmers here have never gone to school; the lack of knowledge and skills compounded by the economic backwardness of the region has resulted in a community which is left behind and seen as having little development potential by modern society.

Project Initiation

In January 2010 The ‘Yuanyang Farmers’ Clubs Project’ was started by Yunnan Development Institute with the support of the EU Delegation in China and Fundacion Pueblo para Pueblo (HPP member in Spain). The total project budget was EUR 774,052, the equivalent of RMB 6,391,841. The project period was 1.1.2010 to 31.12.2013.

The project used a community-based participatory development method. 50 Farmers’Clubs (FC) were formed as a unit of cooperation; each FC consisted of 30-50 farmers representing their households. The purpose was to realise income generation goals through mutual assistance within the FCs. In each village, eager villagers were recruited to become farming instructors. In the initial stage, their job was to mobilize the villagers to participate in the project. Further into the project, the 11 Farming Instructors were responsible for the monitoring of project progress and results, demonstrating advanced planting techniques to farmers, providing subsidies and in-kind assistance, also delivering training for animal husbandry.  During the execution of project activities, farmers’ opinions are given full respect, as their participation is most highly valued by the project.

At the project closure in December 2013, the 50 FCs benefitted 2247 farming households.

Project Activities

1.Improved Rice Cultivation

Rice is the primary staple crop of the locality, it is also the life of the Hani Minority’s terraced paddy fields. However local farmers are accustomed to sporadic sowing of seeds, they believe that the more they sow the greater the yield. Our project invited rice planting experts to conduct on-site training for the farming instructors, and introduce to them techniques for precise and quantitative rice cultivation, also known as  “System of Rice Intensification’ (SRI). Farming instructors demonstrated the new techniques on experimental plots, when farmers saw the improved results they became encouraged to participate in the project. By 2013, the yields of the demonstration plots reached 780.87 KGs per mu, bringing 30% increase in yields.

2.Maize Cultivation

In the early stages, the project team began promoting the “alternating wide-narrow” maize planting technique, the demonstration plots attracted farmers to participate. Eventually, the project team organized technical trainings for participating households on a monthly basis. Up till 2013, the demonstration plots covered 506 households. An increased yield by 31.27% gave farmers more confidence to apply the new planting technique in the future.

3.Black Cardamom Planting

Black cardamom is a leafy plant of which the pods can be harvested and dried to be used as a cooking spice or as a Chinese medicine ingredient. Cardamom planting is an eco-friendly agri-business, it can bring to farmers dual benefits of increased income and improvement of the local environment.  The climatic conditions of Shalatuo township is well suited for the planting of black cardamom so farmers have long been engaged in its cultivation, however the existing plants are dispersed and have not formed any plantation of scale. In 2011, the project team widely distributed black cardamom saplings among households, and proceeded with technical training sessions.  Simultaneously, 225 households under Xiaowozhong village committee were supported to plant 1000 mu of black cardamom. The survival rate of the saplings exceeded 80%,in the following year a re-plant was completed.  In 2013, the large scale cultivation of black cardamom was expanded to Aga village.

Currently, Xiaowozhong village committee has successfully registered a “Specialized Farmers’Cooperative for black cardamomme production in Xiaowozhong village”. Local farmers coordinate purchasing & marketing, and attend trainings all through the farmers’ cooperative.  Over two years of careful management and cultivation, the black cardamom growth has been extremely satisfactory and expanded in scale. There is expectation of a profit making harvest in 2014. (the plant takes 2-4 years to mature)

4.Greenhouse construction for growing vegetables

After learning about the benefits of greenhouse vegetables growing technique, the project team supported farmers in Shalatuo township to construct 6 greenhouses for demonstration plots. At the same time, project team supported 3 households of Manjianghe village committee to plant Chinese medicinal plants Dendrobium candidum in the greenhouse.  The greenhouse technology enables farmers to cultivate off-season cash crops for additional income.

5.Pig breeding

For the pig breeding activity, the Project team introduced fine breeds of sows and duroc hogs for the farming households. Pig breeding technique and anti-season vegetables growing were combined into one training session for the farmers, participation rate was high. The Project team reached an agreement with the famers, that whenever a sow gives birth, one of the piglets will be passed on as a gift to another household. This is how the sustainability of the project is maintained in a way which continues to benefit more and more households. Currently the 553 participating households have experienced an increase of income.

6.Improving infrastructure and hygiene facilities

In 2011, the project team funded the upgrading of a local muddy road to a stone path to convenience the everyday commuting of the villagers.  The project team mobilized villagers to get involved in the construction of a 3.5km stone path.

At the same time, we funded the construction of public toilets in the 7 villages, in addition to that rubbish bins and rubbish pools were erected to improve the public hygiene conditions of the villages.

130 households benefited from the installation of solar powered water heaters; now the villagers have the opportunity to make showering a daily habit, painting a new chapter to the personal hygiene development in the village and bringing forth a lifestyle change.

7.Health training

Since 2011, the project had been inviting health personnel from the local health clinic along with the farming instructors to deliver health related knowledge to the households, training content covered: general health, mother-child health, HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis. Through the training, local households and women in particular, can deepen their awareness of bodily health and disease prevention.

8.Preschool class

The Project team cooperated with Shalatuo Central Primary School to establish preschool classes in the villages, the purpose is to give local children a chance for holistic early childhood development and an earlier start at getting familiar with mandarin so that they can more easily adapt to primary school in the future, as well as reduce their chances of dropping out.  On the 23rd September 2012, the first preschool class opened in Fusai village. A total of 7 classes were established, reaching an enrolment number of 195 students. The preschool class adopted a bilingual teaching method, teaching in both the Yi language and mandarin. The children not only gain knowledge, but also expand their horizons. They discover new hobbies and develop various life skills and communication skills.

Project Updates

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