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Supporting local communities: the testimony of Mr. Fang, farmer in Cao Chang, China

Cao Chang, in the Qinglong county, is a village in the further reaches of the Great Wall of China that doesn’t benefit from tourism development. This isolated and mountainous area has been highly deforested during the rapid industrialization of the country. Cao Chang is part of PUR Projet ‘s large farmers communities all around the world – fthe success of our projects truely rely on the engagement of the communities we work with.

During the 1970s and 1980s, the economic policy of the “Great Leap Forward” aimed to rapidly transform the country from an agrarian economy into a communist society through fast industrialization and collectivization. One of the consequences has been a massive deforestation leading to desolate landscapes and eroded, unproductive soils. As a result, around a quarter of the population left the villages looking for a better future in the cities. Farmers that remain are often the oldest ones who are no longer able to work in the fields allocated to them by the State.

The Great Wall of China, close to the project area

The project developed in this context aims to support the villagers’ initiative to improve their livelihood. In partnership with PUR Projet and the Zigen Foundation, they decided to plant fruit trees to diversify their sources of income and develop self-sufficiency in the community. Planting trees helps to regenerate soil quality, to prevent erosion and to promote a healthy ecosystem for a better production.

Mr. Bao Jikui, member and caretaker of the local farmers’ cooperative

Mr. Fang, farmer from the village of Cao Chang and beneficiary of the first wave of plantation in 2012, tells us his story:

“I have been a farmer all my life: in the days of Mao, under Deng Xiaoping … until today. A few years ago, I fell ill and lost my right eye. My left eye doesn’t see well either, but I still work in my field, and I will do so as long as I can.

Fruit trees have been introduced in the area in the 1940s. Under Mao, it was decided that Cao Chang would be a model agricultural village for growing Chinese fruit trees, so I planted trees in 1969. They are too old now and do not produce anymore. Hence, we changed to other crops: corn, beans, soybeans, peanuts, sweet potatoes.

It was only in 2012 that I was finally able to replant fruit trees on my property with PUR Projet. I am happy to have fruit trees again because they provide me with better incomes than other crops. When the time comes for me to retire, my family can live off of our fruit trees. I am so happy to have these fruit trees! All the trees I have come from the project, I would not have been able to plant them with my own money.”

Mr. Fang’s testimony strengthens our determination to support the most disadvantaged communities. Once again it demonstrates the close relation between shared value creation and endangered ecosystems’ regeneration.

For more information about our agroforestry methods and the benefits it can provide, please visit the dedicated section on our website.

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