Several years ago, Qin Limei's home and property were burned to the ground in a fire that also left Qin physically injured. A farmer in Shizhu County, southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, Qin was at a loss as to how to go about rebuilding her future.
Luckily, she hit on the idea of starting a chili pepper farm, which gave her hope for the future and helped restore her life.
Qin Limei works on her farm. [Provided by Chongqiong Women's Federation/Zhang Yichuan]
Seeds of Hope
In 2010, Qin learned about a training course on planting chili peppers that was to be held in her village.
She felt excited when she learned that there were many planting incentives and standardized planting technology to help her if she wanted to start a chili pepper farm.
After buying a bag of seeds, she proceeded to plant 5 mu (0.33 hectare) of her farm with the seeds. The local government provided technical consulting services for her to run the farm and in just a few months, she was able to harvest the chili peppers and sell them with the help of the local cooperative.
That first year, Qin made a profit of 15,000 yuan (US$ 2,419) from her peppers. The local government awarded her a subsidy to encourage her to continue planting chili peppers.
"It's a great crop to grow, because the government gives you so many incentives and so much help," said Qin.
Qin decided to expand her farm. At the end of 2010, she rented a field from her fellow villagers, increasing her farm area to nearly 60 mu (4 hectares).
Her decision was supported by the local chili pepper cooperative and the government, which soon dispatched agricultural professionals to talk to her about pepper planting.
Equipped with more scientific methods, Qin soon saw her farm work increase as her crops grew. As her husband worked in the city, she hired several workers to help her.
A few months later, Qin harvested 84 tons of chili peppers and saw her profit rise to nearly 100,000 yuan (US$ 16,129). "It was the right choice," she thought, seeing her bank balance increase.
In 2011, she was chosen as one of the top 10 chili pepper farm owners in Shizhu County.
At the beginning of this year, the village committee of Qin's village decided to encourage villagers to plant more chili peppers in order to increase the pepper production to 500 tons per year.
The plan motivated Qin to expand her farm even further. She decided to double her farm area, despite her fellow villagers calling her decision ‘crazy'.
With the assistance of the local government, she rented another 80 mu (5.33 hectares) of land, bringing her farm to 140 mu (10.33 hectares).
She began using machinery on the farm to save her time and labor. Her use of standardized planting technology meant that her farm was little affected even by excessive rainfall and pests.
Qin's farm is currently going from strength to strength, and she expects to make a profit of 250,000 yuan (US$ 40,322) this year.
Qin's success has also inspired her to help her fellow villagers. She shares her experiences in farm management and encourages them to expand their own farms. Sometimes, she invites the villagers to visit her farm and watch how she manages it.
As a way of increasing the villagers' income, she often gives temporary jobs to the women, elderly or disabled who can still do light work. While they work on her farm, she teaches them planting techniques in the hopes that they can use the knowledge in the future to increase their own incomes. To date, her farm has provided 300 such temporary jobs.
With her diligent work and efforts, Qin is playing an influential role in helping herself and her fellow villagers make a difference in their hometown.
(Provided by Chongqiong Women's Federation)
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