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Oranges help lift local village out of poverty

2019/9/24 10:16:17   source:CGTN

In southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, poverty has been lingering in a small county called Rong'an for decades, yet recently villagers' life is changing since they started planting a specific type of oranges.

Locals in Rong'an only recently discovered that the weather and soil are perfect for growing high quality kumquat, a type of orange that can be eaten with its peels.

One villager, Lai Yuanyuan, sees these oranges as a way out for the village, and she decided to make it known to the outside world.

"When I was five, my cousins led me to get a kumquat from a villager who lived two hills away from my home. I was so surprised the fruit was so sweet. I still remember that taste today. As an adult, I've wondered why our kumquat is unknown by the outside world," says Lai.

Lai studied Thai language in Thailand for two years, and worked as a senior manager for a delivery company in south China's Guangdong Province for one year. After she came back to her hometown, she decided to use the e-commerce model to revitalize the village stagnated for decades.

In 2013, Lai opened her first online orange shop. Its popularity encouraged local government to support the whole industry. Roads were opened and people were trained to fit the development of the industry.

In 2014 and 2015, China improved its policy to encourage e-commerce in all counties and villages.

The next few years saw the price of local oranges increase from four yuan per kilo to 40. A kumquat kingdom is gradually forming deep down in the mountains in the southwest of China.

"In fact, my hometown has a 200-year history of planting kumquats. But because of a poor business model, this industry couldn't help people earn a living . When I came back in 2013, the villagers were all cutting down the kumquat trees and thinking about planting other things. But in the last few years, they have gradually grown the trees back," says Lai

The lucrative business then enticed other villagers. More and more young people come back to the village to sell oranges. The kumquat industry has now turned into the main driver of Rong'an county's economy.

"So far, more than 20 thousand villagers were lifted out of poverty by growing and selling kumquat. We now call it the 'fruit of fortune'," says Chen Hong, Party Secretary of Rong'an County.

Lai says her dream has come true at such a young age, so she's very satisfied. And she says her friends in Thailand also love her kumquat. Her next plan is to expand her business to other places in Southeast Asia.

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