GUIYANG, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Han Hongzhong was the first to grow "Huajiao," or prickly ash, in his village, though the decision was not his own.
Han's village, which hugs a steep stone mountain in Guanling county, is home to 2,378 people, most of whom have lived in abject poverty their whole lives. Despite the fact that when harvested, the pepper sells for three times more than the corn favored by farmers of Guizhou Province, in southwestern China, the community were too scared to take a chance.
"When we asked the farmers to grow the pepper, no one was willing. We were such a poor community, no one could afford to take the risk," said Han, who is the village Communist Party of China (CPC) secretary .
At one village meeting, when one farmer asked: "What if the pepper fails, who will feed us?" Han realized he would have to take the lead and try out this new crop.
"My fellow villagers started planting the pepper after my success," said Han. This started a chain reaction, and the village's former corn fields now burst with new crops, such as "pitaya," dragon fruit.
Yu Guanghua, 56, earns at least 10,000 yuan (1,550 U.S. dollars) a year from farming. "Our village officials are open minded, and not scared to take a chance. Their daring has helped an old man like me, I'm quite grateful," said Yu.
As China wages war against entrenched poverty, which is gnawing at the country's most disadvantageous and fragile residents, local officials like Han have become very important.
"The remaining impoverished population are the less able, lacking means for subsistence and usually living in extremely harsh conditions. Most will always be poor unless they are helped," said Han.
The central government has told local administrations that precision poverty relief is needed to lift the remaining 55 million people out of poverty. Meaning, local officials must devise individual measures for each and every household.
"Poverty-relief work is the hardest it has ever been. But willing or not, it is the local official's responsibility and we are under great pressure to deliver on our targets," said Yang Ze, a CPC member of the Bangui Township, which governs Han's village.
Over the last few years, many provinces have sent provincial-level officials to live in villages, so that they can see the issues first hand and design development strategies.
Statistics show that by the end of last year, more than 400,000 such officials had been dispatched to 128,000 poverty-stricken villages.
In Henan, more than 12,000 public servants were despatched to villages to help eradicate poverty. Each official had to live and work in their designated village for at least six months.
The officials can bring necessary resources to these villages. Wang Honghang came from Henan provincial sport department. During his tenure at Lizhuang Village, Xiayi County, about three hours drive from his job in capital Zhengzhou, he persuaded his department to build sports facility for the elderly population in Lizhuang.
Those officials who accomplish their poverty-relief target are given more chances for promotion and those who fail will be recalled and replaced.
"The tough anti-poverty battle requires dedicated foot soldiers and under the current incentives, we are quite motivated," said Sun Xingwen, a dispatched village official.
LANZHOU, April 1 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang has asked officials to enhance preciseness in poverty alleviation by collecting accurate information of impoverished people.
The poor people should be clearly identified and their information be archived so that the government can help them in an accurate way, said Wang during a recent trip to northwest China's Gansu Province. Full story
BEIJING, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Few of the over 55 million people living in China's underdeveloped rural areas have any idea of how the ongoing "two sessions" will soon change their lives for the better.
According to the government work report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang last Saturday, the central government will increase its poverty alleviation budget by 43.4 percent this year, lifting at least 10 million people out of poverty by the year end. Full story