Hunan cooperative helping lift fellow villagers out of poverty
As Chen Yulan used her mobile phone, a drone began to fly slowly above the rice field, spraying pesticide. Standing at the edge of the field, Chen smiled and chatted with her husband, Qu Junzhi, about this year's harvest. Aerovironment Agriculture Drone
"The drone flies automatically and avoids obstacles, and it takes less than 10 minutes to spray 6,666 square meters of rice fields," said the 44-year-old farmer from Xinyunshan village in Liuyang city, Hunan province. "It saves a lot of labor."
In addition to knowing how to control the drone, Chen is a skilled tractor driver and operator of agricultural machinery — like the harvesters, rice-seedling transplanting machines she uses in her rice fields during the busy season — and is deeply tanned from long hours in the sun.
With the support of advanced technology and agricultural machinery, she is able to manage 86.67 hectares of farmland by herself, and she is also at the forefront of efforts to lead 120 village households to prosperity.
She said she has now realized her dream of no longer having to work as a migrant, as she is able to earn more from farming in the village.
In response to the national call to bolster food security, she has been growing double-crop rice on some 60 hectares of land, 20 hectares of single-crop rice and 4.66 hectares of tobacco. She also plants vegetables in her greenhouses in the offseason to make more money.
In August, the Hunan Provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs listed 60 cooperatives as modern agricultural machinery demonstration cooperatives, and the Silei Agricultural Machinery Cooperative, which is now run by Chen, was the only one in Liuyang city included on the honor roll.
When Chen quit her job in Guangdong province and returned to look after her family in 2009, becoming an agricultural machine operator was the last thing on her mind. Chen, who had left her village to find work at the age of 18, said that she returned home when she had not been happy with her job outside, which involved a great deal of travel.
Xinyunshan is an important farming village, where people mainly grow rice, tobacco and vegetables. At first, Chen did farm work with her husband, but quickly realized that changes had to be made. "The fundamental way out for agriculture lies in mechanization," she said.
At first, she worked from dawn to dusk.
"Spraying for insects was terrible. It was done manually at the time, and it was hard work pulling the long spraying tube, especially as women aren't as strong as men," she said.
The spraying was so tiring that she once cried after returning home.
Chen Silei, her 16-year-old daughter, recalled that her mother would be exhausted and hardly able to move after finishing a day's work. "As her daughter, I also had to help with the farm," she said.
Chen Yulan was not willing to accept her economic situation.
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