Empowering a Remote Village to Improve Livelihoods

By Heifer International

October 4, 2012

Story and photos by Zhang Lei | Earthquake Rehabilitation Program Officer | Heifer China

Lin Fengcheng teaching and presenting his chicken-rearing skills.
Lin Fengcheng teaching and presenting his
animal husbandry skills

I asked, “How can you raise chickens in such a remote area?” He just smiled and answered, “Where there is a will, there is a way.”

He is Lin Fengcheng, an ordinary farmer in Sanfang Village, Jiange County, Sichuan, in the remote mountainous countryside with poor transportation. Once it rains, the only way you can go out is by foot. However, a poor village like this can mean a fortune to his industry.

Heifer China came to Sanfang in June, 2010, and helped 51 households to raise chickens. Lin, elected to be the community facilitator, bred 2,000 chickens and helped with the health needs of  chickens from other households. In addition, he often went out to market the chickens and has a brand named Jianmenguan Natural-Fed Chicken.

Later, with Heifer China’s help and training, Lin Fengcheng called on self-help groups (SHGs) to start a cooperative, which was registered as Hongyu Chicken Raising Cooperative. Most farmers had no idea what a cooperative was, and only a few joined in. In order to give the SHG members a thorough understanding of the benefits a cooperative, Lin went door to door to explain. Eventually, 40 households became members.

Lin Fengcheng organizing activities for Women's Day.
Lin Fengcheng organizing activities for Women's Day

The co-op unified procurement, distribution, management and technical services. What’s more, building the chicken greenhouses to reduce cost and expand their market, the co-op helped each household raise their income by 6,000 Yuan, or about $300. The co-op began other initiatives, including planting more than 56 acres of tea trees and 1,500 honeysuckles, and raising earthworms and tenebrio molitors (mealworms) to feed chickens. The method the co-op is using to raise the worms is completely environmentally friendly.

Hard work deserves to be rewarded. Last year, Lin was elected to be the deputy of Guangyuan People’s Congress and this year, Sichuan Province deputy. His proposals for rural industry development were approved and praised by many government leaders. But what’s most meaningful to him is that with the help of Heifer China, he not only carried out his own business, but also can help other villagers reach common prosperity.