By Xinhua Writer Wang Chenxi and Yang Di
YA' AN, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) - Not long after Spring Festival, firecrackers echo through the misty morning in village of Miaoxia in the southwestern province of Sichuan, where armies of greenhouses loom out of the fog.
Yang Zhihua, a farm worker in her 40s, lifts the plastic film and opens a greenhouse.
"This winter is not cold. The mushrooms have already start to grow," she says, pointing to brown canopies popping out from the mushroom bed.
The greenhouses belong to Hongguang Organic Mushroom Farm, a firm that has rented over 500 mu (about 33 hectares) from 150 households. The farm pays 600 to 800 yuan (about 100 to 130 U.S. dollars) per year for each mu, and hires farmers to work in the greenhouses.
"The work is easy for women and old people, and makes much more money than before. Most families earn at least 40,000 yuan," Yang said.
Hongguang's mushroom business paid 12,000 yuan to each worker in 2013. Miaoxia is in Ya'an county, where the average farmer's income in 8,003 yuan last year. Nationwide the figure of 8,896 yuan is not much higher. This higher income means a lot to farmers in Ya'an, where 196 people were killed, and over 11,000 injured in a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in April 20, 2013.
"Those nice people helped us rebuild our homes, but more importantly we can work it by ourselves," Yang said, pointing to a Red Cross Society of China construction site in the distance.
Eight months after the quake, aid programs are mainly in working in infrastructure and housing sectors, but the key to sustainable recovery lies in the economy and in people's livelihoods. In Ya'an, where 75 percent of the population live in rural areas, modern agriculture can play a big role.