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Empowering rural Chinese farmers

Yuanyang is one of the poorest areas in China, where, according to the World Bank, around 150 million people are still living on less than US$1.25 per day, most of them dwelling in rural areas.

To empower Chinese farmers to improve their livelihoods, Humana People to People set up in November 2010 the Farmers’ Clubs project in Shalatuo. The grouping of 30 to 50 members per club has assisted in seeing the farmers joining forces to strengthen their self-development capacity. They do so by sharing agricultural inputs expenses and having a common transportation, and a unified marketing strategy in order to reduce costs and improve market access.

But the project’s aim goes far beyond that. As the Farmers’ Clubs is based in Shalatuo, where many villages lack road connections, almost 60% of the population has never received formal education. The project has thus also focused on the introduction of preschool education, the improvement of nutrition and hygienic conditions and the involvement of women in the decision-making processes.

By providing appropriate training and support to villagers, the participating farmers aim at modernizing farming practices in order to increase crop yields and quality. They also introduce sustainable farming techniques that reduce the impact of agricultural production on the environment.

Over the three years that the project has been running, more than 12.000 people have improved their quality of life thanks to the Farmers’ Clubs which has brought another kind of farming approach to the seven villages. During those years, the farmers in the region have shared experiences, learnt from each other, acquired the skills and the strength to negotiate better prices for their products, and accessed better markets. In 2011 the farmers realized increases in outputs and have since managed to break new ground in sustaining their own livelihoods. The production of maize increased 250 kilograms per acre and the production of rice grew 200 kilograms, benefiting more than 1.200 farmers.

This kind of initiative contributes to achieve the 2015 United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals of alleviating poverty, improving maternal health and encouraging education and environment protection.

In the end, it is all about the local farmers taking their development into their own hands.