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Chongqing's Hardest-Stricken County Youyang Shakes off Poverty

By TRUMAN PENGICHONGQING|Oct 16,2020

“Located in the depth of the Wuling Mountain area, Youyang used to have the city’s largest population below the poverty line … It officially withdrew from the national-level impoverished counties’ list this February, with its poverty occurrence rate dropping from a whopping 17.4% in 2014 to a mere 0.5% in 2019.” Youyang’s Party chief Chen Wensen told a press conference Thursday.

Chen Wensen (3rd L), secretary of the Youyang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County, attends the press conference.

Youyang Tujia and Miao Autonomous County in southeast Chongqing boasts the largest area and ethnic minority population in the municipality. It has long been held as a backwater county with perhaps the most arduous task of helping its poor population shake off poverty.

As of the end of 2019, the county saw a total of 149,000 impoverished people lifted out of poverty, with all 130 villages taken off of the impoverished villages’ list. The remaining 35,000 registered poor households now only make up for 0.5% of its total population.

Chen attributed Youyang’s remarkable achievements in poverty alleviation to their efforts in empowering specialty industries, namely mountain-featured agriculture and ecological folk tourism.

A female farmer picks locally grown fruits on a plantation.

Youyang has established a total of 1.3 million mu plantation areas for various specialty industries, including 260,000 mu for tea-oil trees, 220,000 mu for green Sichuan peppers, and 290,000 mu for traditional Chinese medicines. These government-sponsored specialty industries have nurtured more than 350 processing companies for agricultural products.

“Next, we will stick to the green and quality development path, focus on the three pillar industries of tea-oil trees, tea leaves, and green Sichuan peppers, aiming to build a national paragon for mountain-based specialty agriculture development,” Chen said.

Youyang has also fully integrated poverty reduction with its abundant culture and tourism resources. There is currently one national AAAAA (5A) scenic area – the highest level of tourist attractions in China – the Youyang Peach Blossom Valley and three national AAAA (4A) scenic areas, the Longtan Ancient Town, the Gongtan Ancient Town, and the Shengui Gorge.

The Youyang Stromatolite Blossom Valley.

The booming tourism has helped over 50,000 poor people achieve income growth and make a living. Take the recently built Youyang Stromatolite Blossom Valley as an example; it gained almost instant fame on the internet after its first opening and has brought a host of new economic opportunities for residents.

Chen added that the 200 households directly neighboring the Valley achieved a cumulative increased revenue of more than 10 million yuan by providing land transfer, labor, catering, and accommodation services.

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