Zheng Quanfu, a villager in southeast China’s Fujian province, who used to have difficulty supporting his family, has become a leading light in fighting poverty and achieving prosperity in his village, helping many local people enjoy better lives.
He is the greatest beneficiary of China’s poverty alleviation policies, Zheng said, adding that the poverty alleviation efforts of the country help people like him acquire the ability to pursue a better life.
Regarded as an expert in keeping bees, Zheng can tell what disease a bee has and how to cure it simply by looking at it and is now a well-known beekeeper in Yangkeng village, Yangdun township, Shunchang county, Nanping, Fujian province.
However, Zheng was not so successful at the business in the beginning.
Zheng started keeping bees several years ago, carrying a beehive box on one end of a shoulder pole and a basket of orchids on the other end through the mountains, trying to attract honeybees with the flowers.
As it turned out, the local methods didn’t increase the number of his bees, Zheng disclosed, explaining that he had dozens of boxes of bees before winter, but saw there were only seven or eight boxes of them left after the cold season.
Seeing that keeping bees wasn’t working out well for him, Zheng gradually left the industry and started to make a living selling rice produced in contracted paddy fields.
Unfortunately, work in paddy fields could only guarantee food and clothing for the family of seven. Zheng still needed to borrow money for expenses.
After a car accident in 2014 that left Zheng with a broken arm and lumbar vertebrae, he had to be hospitalized for several months, during which he worried about the life of his family so much that he secretly shed tears.
During the family's most difficult time, poverty alleviation policies included Zheng’s family on the list of registered poor households.
After he had almost fully recovered from his injuries, a poverty alleviation official came to see him and asked what he wanted to do for a living.
“I want to keep bees,” Zheng blurted out without hesitation, as keeping bees had always been an unfinished dream of his.
After learning that Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University (FAFU) had a bee school that teaches students all kinds of knowledge and skills in beekeeping, the poverty alleviation official contacted the university for Zheng and gave him 2,000 yuan ($293.2). The official told Zheng to work hard and learn skills at the university.
At the end of 2016, Zheng came to Fuzhou, capital of Fujian, and started to learn efficient methods of breeding bees in the university’s school of bee science.
“I was different from the other students there. I regarded the opportunity to learn beekeeping as a life-saving last straw,” Zheng said.
After more than 20 days, Zheng returned to his hometown with great confidence. He was ready to go all out to pick up his old dream again.
However, Zheng couldn’t figure out how to find the money to buy beehive boxes and honeycombs, after all he couldn’t even provide his family with enough to eat. Once again, poverty alleviation policies provided timely help for him.
Zheng first received a batch of beehive boxes, and then a 50,000 yuan interest-free loan.
According to Zheng, his beekeeping business grew fast, disclosing that he had nearly 300 boxes of bees during his first year of business in 2017, and nearly 600 boxes of bees in 2018, when he harvested more than 2,000 kg of honey and gained over 200,000 yuan (over $29,000).
Last year, though Zheng’s apiary didn’t see a good harvest because of too much rain, he quickly found another way of increasing income by breeding new species of bees.
At the beginning of this spring, Zheng earned 50,000 to 60,000 yuan (roughly between $7,300 to $8,700) from selling the newly-bred bees.
Hiring 10 people from local impoverished families, Zheng established a beekeeping cooperative last year.
“The government helped me shake off poverty. Now I want to help these poor brothers and teach them how to keep bees. Now knowing more about the sale of our products, I want to try my best to help them,” Zheng said.
* This article was republished in partnership with People’s Daily Online SA.