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Agricultureex-model grapples for new 'spirit'
By Sun Xiaohua (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-07-26 06:13

By A village in North China that gained fame in the 1960s when it turned its barren hillsides into high-yield terraced farmland is to host a discussion on development and co-operation between villages this September.

Dazhai in Xiyang County in North China's Shanxi Province will be the site for the fifth Forum of Chinese Village Heads on September 3-5, Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday.

More than 500 village heads and related experts are expected to attend, said Guo Fenglian, a deputy of the National People's Congress China's top legislature and chairman and general manager of the Dazhai Economic Development Company who is in charge of organizing the forum.

The four previous forums focused on the issues of rural dwellers, rural areas and agriculture. Currently China has at least 690,000 villages.

"Dazhai, an open village with a glamorous history, welcomes friends from all circles," Guo said. "Dazhai likes to share its successful experiences with its friends to make progress together."

Dazhai is noted for its uncommon history.

In the early 1960s, the high yield produced by previously barren hillsides was hailed as a miracle of agricultural development. The villagers' success even won praise from late Chairman Mao Zedong, who highlighted the village as a model for success.

From the 1960s to the mid-1970s, the village of Dazhai was held up as a national pace-setter and a fine example for China's agricultural sector.

Over a 10-year period, more than 10 million people from home and abroad came to visit and learn from Dazhai's development, including the late Premier Zhou Enlai.

Dazhai's spirit, which overcame natural difficulties and showed bravery against hardship, was the subject of high praise.

After the country began its drive for reform and opening up, Dazhai residents kept their spirit and developed it.

Guo Fenglian, known as the "iron lady" for her perseverance during the difficult period at the beginning of reform and opening-up, returned to Dazhai in 1991 as Party secretary of the village and general manager of the Dazhai Economic Development Company.

The Dazhai Economic Development Company has become the village's pillar industry, with involvement in many sectors, including coal, construction materials, textiles, transport and food.

Dazhai's heads have also paid attention to the development of the local environment. Forty-three per cent of village land is forest-covered.

(China Daily 07/26/2005 page2)

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