Between October 20th and 26th, Professor Zhu Qizhen from Chinese Agricultural University, along with Pat Kwei-Ping Yang, Li Guangdui and April Hu from Zigen, paid a visit to the counties of Minqing, Yongtai and Yongchun, the national experimental zones of ecological civilization, of Fujian Province. The purpose of this visit was to introduce its “Rural Revitalization” project, including rural leadership training, Green Eco Schools and Villages concepts, and discuss possible project collaboration.
After lectures and panel discussions, the local government officials had better understood and showed much appreciation of Zigen’s rural leadership training for sustainable development. The Zigen team visited a supermarket,(1) an office on protection (2) and a research center. Through local recommendations, Zigen travelled to about 10 villages, conducted investigation, research, training, and discussion sessions to acquaint their potential local partners.
The team also checked out with Zigen’s workshop alumni to understand their progress, their effectiveness, as well as their difficulties when they carried out the real projects on the county level. It was also affirmed that in the spring of 2019, “Rural Revitalization Leadership Training” will be upgraded to the provincial level — selecting a pilot project, deciding preliminary measures, editing readings of local culture, filming on agriculture……to jointly promote the Education for Sustainable Development, so it may root deep and root well in the province of Fujian.
Professor Zhu ran some seminars on rural revitalization upon invitations. In Minqing, he emphasized that BIG is not always right for family base agriculture. Do not chase large scale blindly. Be aware of local conditions, to open up cooperative economy, a comprehensive manner serves best. In Yongtai, Zhu shared the factors to revitalize villages. He pointed out the best trio in village agricultural system to be “farmers + farms + co-ops”. Prof. Zhu searched and explored new ways and directions with Yongtai’s case studies.
There exists a rich tradition of ancestral hall culture and Fujian style traditional buildings in quite a few villages in Minqing County. Also existing are senior groups and village councils. However, villages suffer a serious population outflow, regular residing villagers account 10-30 % only, thus challenging the village memories and cultural inheritance passing to the next generation. Among them, Zhangxiang Village carries a history of 800 years, with historical traces like ancient roads, ancestral temples, school buildings back to the Qing Dynasty. This village is rated “traditional” by the province. However, its current population is just more than 400 in comparison with its official household record of 1242. Very few of them can recite the historical background of the village. The county government is currently conducting repairs of traditional buildings, better equipping infrastructure, developing cultural inheritance and culture protection, to reactivate these traditional villages into their new career, including tourism.
- A pilot unit established by Minqing County government, jointly built by the county government, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, and the affiliated company in February 2018.
- Established in September 2015, it is one of the few professional protection agencies led by the province government for historical preservation.
Translated by Maggie Ren, she is currently engaged in government-enterprise relations. Likes music, yoga and participate in public welfare activities.
Edited by Lotus Zhao, long-term Zigen Fund volunteer.