Relocated residents take a shuttle bus back home from an agricultural demonstration zone in Xifang Village of Linyou County, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Sept. 5, 2022. (Xinhua/Zhang Bowen)
XI'AN, Sept. 26 (Xinhua) -- Born and raised in the deep mountains, Zhang Liping, a 39-year-old woman troubled by poverty for years, never expected that she would one day move to a comfortable residence and live a better-off life.
Zhang's hometown, Linyou County in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, is a mountainous region on the Loess Plateau. Inconvenient transportation and a lack of arable land once hindered the economic development of the small county with a population of 71,000.
By 2020, China had fully completed its poverty-alleviation relocation programs for the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016-2020), with more than 9.6 million people involved having moved into new homes and shaken off poverty.
Nearly 14,000 residents in Linyou County, including Zhang, benefited from the program and bid farewell to their shabby houses in the mountains.
"Thanks to government subsidies, it cost only 7,500 yuan (about 1,070 U.S. dollars) for my family of three to move to the new residence in the summer of 2019," said Zhang.
Providing follow-up support for relocated residents is of paramount importance. In the Nanfang resettlement community where Zhang lives, schools, hospitals and workshops are available for newcomers.
Zhang works in a workshop on the top floor of a three-story building in the community, knitting car seat cushions with another 20 colleagues.
"I was diagnosed with systemic lupus erythematosus in 2009 with mobility issues and my husband was then the only breadwinner in the family," Zhang said. "I feel content to have such a job and earn about 2,500 yuan per month," added Zhang, who can now easily juggle her job and her child's needs.
Currently, the county has eight community factories with a total of over 500 employees and one-third of them are relocated residents or people lifted out of poverty.
Data from the National Rural Revitalization Administration shows that a total of 4.59 million people relocated from inhospitable areas and lifted out of poverty were employed in the first half of 2022. At least one person in a relocated family with labor ability has secured a job.
Efforts have also been made to develop featured industries and improve infrastructure to create job opportunities and extra income for locals in barren mountains.
In the past, villagers in Linyou often endured bad harvests due to barren land and a lack of rainfall. But in the eyes of Wang Xiding, such an environment coincided with the requirements of the agrivoltaics industry.
Along the road twisting up the mountainside in the Jiuchenggong Township, Linyou County, an agrivoltaics park covering an area of 1,210 mu (about 80.7 hectares) was built on the slope in 2016. Solar panels are placed on greenhouses that shelter crops of peppers, corn and grapes ready for harvest.
"With an average altitude of 1,250 meters and abundant sunlight, it is an ideal place to develop an agrivoltaics project to earn extra income for locals," said Wang, general manager of the park's operator, adding that an average of 24 million kWh of electricity is generated per year.
At the end of 2020, the county was linked with expressways, making it convenient for good transportation. Moreover, free buses running between the industrial park and resettlement communities are available for residents.
"There is much more to look forward to in life," Zhang said. ■
Children play games with their teacher at a kindergarten in a relocation community in Linyou County, northwest China's Shaanxi Province, Sept. 5, 2022. (Xinhua/Zhang Bowen)
Aerial photo taken on Sept. 6, 2022 shows a photovoltaic agricultural demonstration zone in Fengyuan Village of Linyou County, northwest China's Shaanxi Province. (Xinhua/Zhang Bowen)