Homecoming Graduates Spark Rural Businesses In China

According to statistics released by Ning’an authorities in 2022, over recent years, more than 100 college graduates have returned to their hometown of Ning’an to start rural businesses.

Homecoming Graduates Spark Rural Businesses In China

Surrounded by water on three sides and boasting beautiful scenery, Xiaozhujia Village in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province used to find it difficult to attract visitors, partly due to its remote location and poor transport links. According to statistics released by Ning’an authorities in 2022, over recent years, more than 100 college graduates have returned to their hometown of Ning’an, China to start rural businesses.

In recent years, however, the picture has changed, and the waterside village in China is bustling with life and rural businesses activities.

Cheng Liankun, born and raised in the village in the city of Ning’an, is a witness to and a participant in this remarkable transformation.

“It is a remote village, and people were reluctant to come,” the 33-year-old said. “However, since the village has developed modern agriculture and rural tourism, the visitors have multiplied every year.”

Some villagers say the improvements in Xiaozhujia started when many youngsters graduated from college and returned to start businesses.

Among them is Cheng, who graduated from Mudanjiang Normal University. After finishing studies, he gave up a job opportunity in the coastal city of Dalian, Liaoning Province, and returned to the village in 2014 to start a business. He had noted the problems faced by his hometown, and he hoped to make some improvements.

“When I had just returned, most farmers in the village only earned money from farming, and the local rice could not be sold for a good price,” he said.

Cheng, a marketing major, believed villagers should participate in the village collective economy and share its development dividend.

The first thing he did after returning was to learn agricultural management. With his professional knowledge, he helped design the development path of Xiaozhujia. A new model was formed, giving the village responsibility for planning, while enterprises were responsible for specific operations, and the villagers transformed their self-built houses into homestays and agritainment.

In 2018, Cheng established a professional rice cooperative and a processing factory in the village. To promote the local rice, he traveled to major trade fairs. He also established cooperation agreements with well-known e-commerce platforms such as Alibaba and JD.com to teach villagers how to sell rice online, which gradually improved the sales of local agricultural products.

Additionally, he registered the “China’s ice village” trademark in October 2019 to develop winter tourism in the village. In 2020, the village cooperated with short-video platform Kuaishou to attract visitors through livestreaming and other online content.

The government of China offered tax incentives and loans to college graduates who start businesses to serve the rural community.

Liu Ye, head of Bohai Town, said that farmers are willing to participate in such operations, and their income has increased significantly. In recent years, fewer people have gone out to work than before.

Among them is Chen Yujia who chose to develop the rural business in a different way.

In the golden paddy fields of Shangguandi Village of Bohai Town, Chen and other villagers livestream to tell viewers all about how rice is grown. Their livestreaming sessions not only drive rice sales, but also attract tourists for sightseeing.

“When there are more young people and more enterprises, the economic development of our hometown will continue to improve,” Chen said.

Zhang Zhiqiang, a 26-year-old graduate with a marketing degree from Harbin Normal University, returned to his hometown of Yuchi Township in Heilongjiang’s city of Shangzhi in 2018, together with some of his fellow university schoolmates.

His father had been in the honey business for some 15 years, but for some time the honey had not been selling well, with very low profits. Zhang decided to help his father run the business.

In 2019, he started advertising online and livestreaming for his company. Online sales now account for around 70 percent of the company’s total sales.

This year, Zhang invested about 5 million yuan (about 694,550 U.S. dollars) in building a new production facility and introduced five production lines.

In the future, he hopes more young people will join him in promoting the sales of agricultural products through various means, such as e-commerce livestreaming.

Originally published at English News