Rich rewards reaped after poverty shaken off
A decade ago, Zou Yongcun and his family were forced to relocate a short distance to his home village due to his wife's health.
She was diagnosed with lupus erythematosus, a disease affecting the immune system, and femoral head necrosis, in which the blood supply to the highest part of the thigh bone is disrupted and the bone dies.
The costly fees for her treatment quickly depleted the family's savings.
Zou had no choice but to close his garment business in Huichang county, Jiangxi province, and return with his wife and two children to the nearby impoverished village of Gufang.
In recent years, with the help of the government's poverty alleviation policies, the village has made full use of its location and natural resources to foster new businesses such as growing fruit and vegetables, along with rural tourism.
After he returned home, Zou and his family were classified as an impoverished household, but he landed a job managing 2 hectares of vegetable greenhouses in the village, earning 2,000 yuan ($305) a month.
His wife benefited from preferential policies, with the majority of her medical bills reimbursed, greatly reducing the financial burden on the family, and in 2014, Zou, his wife, daughter and son were lifted out of poverty.
Two years later, the entire village was free of poverty. Now, with the rapid development of local industries, Gufang is well on the way to rural revitalization and Zou is regaining his confidence in life.
The village is only 3 kilometers from the downtown area of Huichang county, but is completely different to it.
While the downtown has a population of 500,000, numerous rows of buildings and bustling businesses, the village is home to just 1,371 residents, green hills, clear ponds and tidy farmland.
The hard-working villagers have prospered by planting peaches, navel oranges and red bayberries, as well as breeding fish.
However, although Gufang was taken off the poverty list in 2016, there was still a wealth gap between the village and the downtown area.
In recent years, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China has stressed the importance of rural revitalization. This means making agriculture a promising industry, farming an attractive profession and the countryside a beautiful place for villagers to live in and thrive.
Gufang Party chief Zhou Liansheng said that after noticing the disparity between the village and the downtown area, officials set a target to make Gufang the "backyard" of Huichang county, with downtown residents visiting it to relax and enjoy leisure time on holidays or during weekends.
"With this goal in mind, we established a cooperative among the villagers, rented land from them, set up fruit gardens, grew different types of plants, and opened the gardens to tourists from the urban area to pick fruit and experience the joys of harvesting," Zhou said.