Story and photos by Wu Xia | Heifer China
During the transition from summer to fall, the pest explosion in rural areas often results in a reduced yield or even total crop failure in China.
Chusizhai Village suffered from an unprecedented plague of insects in August 2012. With the help of Heifer China Office in Lancang County, villagers dropped their superstitious beliefs and began to believe in science. By making efforts together, they finally eliminated the plague, protected 270 acres of farmland and prevented crop failure.
Xiaoba, the leader of Chusizhai Self-Help Group (SHG), encountered Heifer Lancang project partners in Lancang Market on August 21. Xiaoba told the partners that a large number of insects had invaded 300 acres of paddy farmland in Chusizhai Village. The insects reproduced quickly and had eaten immature paddies. He was planning to rush back to Chusizhai Village and organize a traditional rite: put some insects in bamboo tubes with his hands and summon ghosts and supernatural beings to take the insects away. He also added that these insects came every year. Villagers had always sent them away using this rite. However, this year, five rites were held and the insects were still there. They continued to multiply and ate 30 acres of paddy fields. He planned to consecrate several chickens and hold this rite again.
The project partners realized this was an urgent problem, so they invited experts from plantation preservation station to visit Chusizhai Village. These experts, along with SHG members, investigated the paddy fields and analyzed the insect species as well as the cause of the insect plague. Villagers received training about pest control in the SHG activity room. They also kept traditional customs at the request of the Lahu ethnic group, but when the moon rose August 22, Xiaoba guided the whole village in performing the pest elimination on 300 acres of farmland via the methods taught by the scientific experts.
When discussing the pest issue again, Xiaoba was a little shy and said, Whenever plague of insects or other disasters occur in the future, I will never hold the superstitious rite again. I will believe in science, [and] invite teachers from Heifer to help.
After the pest control that night, the plague of insects in Chusizhai Village died out. Now, every household is looking forward to a new harvest!