Knowing All about Hunan

Anhua explores a new model of rural vitalization and prosperity

Updated:2022-12-16 11:28:52

Located in the northern section of the Xuefeng Mountains and the upper reaches of Zishui River, Anhua, the third-largest county in Hunan province, has embarked on a new path of rural vitalization that enriches its people, beautifies its countryside and greens its hills.

A pilot village for rural vitalization in Anhua, Shatianxi village in Longtang town has a quality living environment with wide roads, fancy houses and green vegetable gardens. The village has explored a path suitable for local development and in turn helped residents to prosper. Last year, the collective economic income of the village reached 197,000 yuan ($28,304).

Chen Jian, leader and first Party secretary of the Shatianxi working team, said the village focuses on consolidating the results of rural vitalization and doing practical endeavors.

It has renovated and expanded cultural squares, built 17 sets of outdoor fitness equipment and three cultural corridor bridges and restored a number of identification signs and bulletin boards for publicity as well as themed wall paintings.

The village also launched the construction of the public cultural service center project, adding more than 3,000 square meters of public cultural venues and making up for the shortcomings of mass cultural activity venues and facilities.

The publicity department of Hunan invited professors from Hunan University to design a public cultural service center in the village. The center will exhibit works from Huang Ziyuan, a famous calligrapher during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) whose hometown is in Longtang town. It will also include bookstores and multifunctional cultural rooms.

Chen said the public cultural service center will be completed in January 2023. It will greatly improve the construction of public cultural service facilities in the village, attract visitors and add momentum to local development.

To develop the industry and help farmers increase their income, the village working team and the two village committees led the farmers to plant tea, sealwort and small fruits. It also set up food processing factories and rural farmhouses.

"This year, thanks to the matchmaking event led by the working team in the village, we solved the sales problem for the cooperative," said Huang Chaohua, the person in charge of the Xiaoershan Ecological Tea and Fruit Planting Professional Cooperative in Shatianxi.

The local cooperative sold 120,000 yuan of raw tea and 230,000 yuan of finished tea this year. "Our tea gardens produce at least 1,000 kilograms of tea a year, and the labor cost is 200,000 yuan," Huang said.

Relying on its long tradition of tea planting and profound dark tea culture, Anhua has promoted the dark tea industry to improve people's livelihood.

After 15 years of rapid development, the area of tea gardens in Anhua has grown from 6,670 hectares to 24,012 hectares and the annual tea processing volume has increased from 10,000 metric tons to 85,000 tons. The annual comprehensive output value has increased from 600 million yuan to 23 billion yuan.

Anhua has been selected as one of the top 10 counties in China's tea industry for 13 consecutive years. It has also been rated as a leading county in the national "three-tea coordination".

The vigorous development of Anhua's dark tea industry has led to the rapid growth of tea art, logistics, packaging, tourism and other industries, creating the "Anhua Miracle" in the Chinese tea industry.

Statistics show that more than 350,000 people in the county are currently engaged in tea-related production and business activities, and the income from labor services alone exceeds 3 billion yuan.

Chen Guixiang from Gaoma Erxi village has been working with dark tea all his life. Since 2007, he has led some local villagers to develop the dark tea industry and build a tea brand. Over the past 10 years, the village has built more than 1,120 hectares of alpine ecological organic tea gardens and is home to more than 40 large and small tea enterprises. It is the village with the largest tea garden area and the most tea enterprises in Anhua. Chen Guixiang said his tea factory buys fresh leaves from more than 260 tea farmers every year and thousands of villagers live a good life thanks to dark tea.

Anhua also regards tourism as a platform for the integration of primary, secondary and tertiary industries. By developing emerging formats such as "tourism plus tea industry", "tourism plus culture" and "tourism plus health", tourism is infiltrated into all aspects of the tea industry.

Yuntaishan village, home to the Yuntaishan scenic area, has built more than 30 farmhouses integrating accommodation and entertainment, which can accommodate more than 1,000 people at a time. Some villagers opened shops in the scenic area, selling vegetables and fruits from their own vegetable gardens and orchards. They also sell homemade jar dishes, cured meat and other local specialties to tourists.

Qiu Xiaoqiu, Party secretary of the village, said 80 percent of the young people working outside the village have returned home to start their own businesses. The village has become a microcosm of "integrated development of tea and tourism".

In Anhua, key tea-tourism integration projects such as the National Modern Agricultural Industrial Park, the China Dark Tea Museum, the Dark Tea Characteristic Town, and the Tianxia Dark Tea Real-Scene Performing Arts have been completed.

In 2018 and 2019, the number of tourists received by Anhua reached 6 million and 7 million, and the annual comprehensive tourism output value reached 5.2 billion yuan and 7.5 billion yuan.

A number of tea homestays and tea hot springs have flourished and the development of tea deep-processing products has been accelerated.

Yang Haibiao, deputy director of Anhua Dark Tea Town Project Construction Headquarters, said the town will employ more than 30,000 people, produce 100,000 tons of dark tea and receive 10 million tourists this year.


The tea plantation in Anhua, Hunan province. CHINA DAILY


From left: Shatianxi village in Anhua has a good living environment. A woman introduces Anhua dark tea to clients via livestreaming. A farmer picks tea leaves at a plantation in Anhua. CHINA DAILY