Orange growers enjoy fruits of wealth program

Updated: May 29, 2020 By Cui Jia and Zhu Zhe China Daily Print
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Farmers carry baskets of navel oranges in an orchard in Huichang, Jiangxi province, in  2019. Many locals have been lifted out of poverty by growing the fruit. [Photo by Chen Zebing/China Daily]

A formerly impoverished county is sowing the seeds of success. Cui Jia and Zhu Zhe report from Huichang, Jiangxi.

Li Fashun, a farmer in Huichang county, Jiangxi province, said people often talk about poverty alleviation-a key task for the central government-but they rarely know how it feels to live in such conditions.

The experience is something Li knew only too well at one time in his life.

"I used to get up every morning feeling hopeless. No matter how hard I tried, I was in debt and had no income," said the 44-year-old, who grows navel oranges in mountainous Nantian village.

"Worst of all, I lost the motivation to change things around because there was no hope. That's what poverty does to you."

He and his wife worked hard to take care of their orange groves and provide for the family. All went well until Li's father was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2012 and needed full-time care.

It meant Li was unable to manage his farm-an essential task to ensure a good harvest-and the high cost of treatment almost immediately ate up the family's savings.

Without a stable income, the family quickly fell into deep debt.

Li borrowed 120,000 yuan from relatives and friends to pay for his father's expensive medication and his daughter's university tuition, but he became increasingly frustrated when he needed to borrow more money.

"It felt like I was being sucked into a black hole. There was no hope of getting out of poverty, no matter how hard I tried," he recalled.

When the central government rolled out an ambitious plan in 2013 aimed at eradicating poverty nationwide by the end of this year, about 15 percent of Huichang's 511,600 residents were living below the poverty line.

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