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Carrefour-HPP Farmers’ Clubs Project in Fengdu County, Chongqing

Source:Humana People to People ChinaDate:2014-05-06 00:00:00Click:1226

Project Background

Fengdu County rests on the banks of the Yangtze River, the county belongs to the Three Gorges Dam territory. Fengdu County is situated 164 kilometers north of Chongqing City – one of the economic and political centers of South-West China. The County with a population of 824,200 (259,200 farming households) covers an area of 2900 square kilometers. 80% of the population resides in the countryside (666,000 people. Out of the 40 County level administrative units (Counties and Districts) under Chongqing Municipality, 14 are nationally designated poor Counties, and Fengdu is one of them. In Fengdu, 96,000 people are living below the national poverty line of Rmb2300/person/year. Fengdu County is economically dependent on the two traditional livelihoods of agriculture and animal husbandry. The cultivation of vegetables, fruits and the food processing industry are the pillars of the local economy. The primary crops grown are rice, potatoes, grapes, cabbage, fruits and tobacco; the livestock raised include pigs, cows, goats and rabbits. As a County affected by the Three Gorges Dam project, Fengdu County was given attention by the Chongqing Municipality as one of the 12 strategic nationally designated poor Counties. 

Project Initiation

In February 2012, the Chongqing Fengdu County Farmers’ Clubs Project was officially launched by Humana People to People China, with the sponsorship of the Carrefour Foundation.

Fengdu Farmer’s Club (FC) project is a poverty alleviation project integrated with enterprise supply chain improvement. Among others it aims to determine how to combine a FC project with the market of Carrefour’s stores in Chongqing city so farmers can benefit while Carrefour can get high quality and safely produced products. The selected project area is therefore relatively close to an expressway – three to four hours from Chongqing city center.

The program will run for three years, covering 1,000 farming households in three administrative villages - Honghuapo village, Baiguoyuan village and Qinggangping village of Baoluan Town. (包鸾镇)

This project reaches out to every farming household in the target community to optimize the production of each farmer. In every village, there are farmers with high yields, and farmers with lower yields. What the Farmers’ Clubs project aims to do is find out why those farmers with high yields are successful, study their methods, improve them, and popularize them among the other farmers in the same community.

The farmers themselves are the driving force of their own production. The role of the project is to bring them together to learn from each other, providing the necessary organization to allow for an efficient information sharing and capacity building in the community. Farming Instructors – who live in the villages, together with the farmers - work to support the community, but they do not lead the community. They support the Farmers’ Club Committees to become the leaders, become effective in their leadership, and mobilize every member to participate in driving their own development.

Introduction to the project on The Carrefour Foundation’s website:

This project is supported by Carrefour Foundation

Project Leader (second from left) communicates with the farmers who grow corn from seeds subsidized by the project and receive training held by the project

Project Activities

1. Planting Potatoes and Finding Market Channels
The planting of potatoes is a key activity in this project. We subsidize farmers to purchase new potato seeds and continue to provide technical support and management training for the participating farmers. Owing to the project assistance and the diligence of the participants, an increase of yield was achieved.

The potatoes were harvested in July 2013. Our farming instructors communicated with the farmers on the idea of collectively supplying the potatoes to the Carrefour supermarket in Chongqing City, in this way the farmers would gain direct access to the market value chain. Project leaders negotiated with Carrefour’s fresh produce managers, ultimately reaching an agreement on the amount, quality and price of the batch of potatoes to be supplied. 3000Kgs of potatoes harvested by 24 farming households were sold to Chongqing City’s Carrefour Supermarket, successfully completing the project’s first attempt at connecting the farming households to the supply chain of city supermarkets. 

During the potato harvest season, farmers were busy selecting, weighing and packaging the potatoes to be sold to Chongqing’s Carrefour Supermarket

2. Cultivating Rice and Corn

Rice Cultivation: farmers decide on which types of seeds to purchase, then the project team organizes the purchasing and distribution of seeds. 80 mu of rice paddy fields are designated for the cultivation process; experts guide farmers through the “System of Rice Intensification” (SRI) planting technique which is to be applied to the new plots. 

Corn Cultivation: project team distributes new corn seeds to the farmers. Farmers are guided through the “wide-narrow alternating rows” technique for planting corn. Participating households are delighted to see a significant increase in yields of both rice and corn crops. 

Farmers harvesting rice

The farmer is very happy to see his newly harvested rice crops

The project staff is demonstrating the differences between traditional corn planting technique and the new “wide-narrow alternating rows” technique to Carrefour staff.

3. Walnut Trees Planting

Through a survey of the local geography, our project team found that the high altitude of Fengdu is an appropriate natural environment for planting walnut trees. Furthermore, the suitability of the climatic and geographical conditions makes management of the walnut tree plantation much easier – for instance storage and preserving the walnuts in a fresh state is relatively achievable in Fengdu, it is of critical importance that the produce can keep for a longer period of time considering that the project sites are in remote areas with poor transport infrastructure.
Taking into account all these factors, the project team believed that planting walnut trees here would reap good results. Thus they introduced this idea to the farmers and began to distribute saplings and organize trainings. After witnessing the success of the planting project, Fengdu County Poverty Alleviation Office decided to subsidize the farmers with RMB 400,000 for purchasing more walnut tree saplings, and expand the scale of the project to benefit more farmers.

A villager collecting the walnut tree saplings 

Farming instructor demonstrating to villager the correct way of planting a walnut tree

 Villagers actively planting walnut trees

4. Breeding Pigs and Pass-on Grants

Firstly, piglets are distributed to the households. Then the project team helps farmers to construct fermentation beds as a cleaner and more effective means to manage the pigs than the traditional pig pen. Throughout the process, training is given to the farmers, until the sows give birth to piglets. Every household that has benefited from the project will gift pass-on grants of piglets to new participating households as a way to ensure the sustainable continuity of the project as well as expand the scale of the project to bring the benefits of income increase to more farming households.

A farmer who has just received a piglet from the pass-on grants ceremony is interviewed by the Fengdu TV station

“We want to raise the piglet into a fully grown sow, the sow can give birth to more piglets and we will benefit from this”

5. Breeding Goats and Pass-on Grants

Farmers are subsidized by the project for the purchasing of goats, and then we invite experts to deliver training to the farmers on specific techniques of goat breeding. Following the same procedures as the pig breeding pass-on grants activity, farmers are required to gift baby goats to new participating households once their adult goats have given birth, thus ensuring the sustainability and expansion of the project.

Participating farmers who began the goat breeding agribusiness with just a few goats, now have an entire herd of goats.

Carrefour staff talking with a participating household who have just passed on a baby goat.

6. Solar Water Heater Installation Campaign

In order to improve the local hygiene and sanitation conditions and enable farmers to have access to warm showers every day, the project team subsidized households to collectively purchase and install solar water heaters. Participating villagers were delighted that by paying a small amount of money they can now enjoy the comfort and convenience of taking a warm shower at home every day. 

The farmer signs for receiving the subsidy for solar water heater installation

The farmer and the newly subsidized installation of a solar water heater for his family

7. Training

Capacity building trainings are organized to help farmers gain more knowledge and gradually develop the ability to self-study. Training covers a wide range of content: farming techniques, health and hygiene, women’s clubs training, family budgeting and financial literacy. 

Training for goat and pig breeding

Farming households eagerly participating in the introductory training

8. Upgrading Public Infrastructure

In order to mitigate the impacts of drought on irrigation in certain villages, the project team carried out repairs for a drinking water tank in Baiguoyuan village so that more mountain water can be stored in the tank; In Qingpinggang village we organized the construction of a water tank and a corresponding water pipeline, this newly built facility benefitted a few hundred households.

Villagers building the water storage tank

Villagers transporting raw materials uphill for the construction of a drinking water tank

The Baiguoyuan drinking water tank after the repairs

The repairs and construction of drinking water tanks was carried out in conjunction with the construction of garbage pools, the latter is part of the effort to improve local hygiene conditions. Our project team visited Honghuapo village to make a survey of potential sites for the garbage pool construction and also how many are required by the village. According to the suggestions by villagers and the village committee, it was decided that 4 garbage pools will be constructed. The selected sites are close to transport lines and at a considerable distance away from the villagers’ houses.

Villagers engaged in the construction of the garbage pool

Honghuapo villages’ garbage pool

Project Updates

1. Chongqing Fengdu Farmers’ Clubs project receives support in subsidies from local government

2. Farmers’ Clubs Fengdu - Goat pass-on scheme crucial to improve farmers’ livelihoods