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Chongqing convincing its talent to come home

By Tan Yingzi in Chongqing | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-28 07:59

Living alone in a hut by a fish farm, Ling Gangji raises snakehead fish, his second startup project in his hometown of Sanjia in Chongqing municipality's rural Yongchuan district.

Since graduating from college in 2009, Ling has run a successful restaurant business in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, opening 29 chain stores that sell boiled snakehead fish with pickled cabbage and chili.

However, when he first started his business, he often experienced a supply shortage of snakehead fish. At that time, most of the fish came from southern parts of China, such as Guangdong province, taking a long time to arrive in Chengdu. In order to meet the demand of his restaurants, Ling returned to his hometown and began to breed the fish himself.

In 2012, he rented a 6.7-hectare plot of land in Sanjiao town and built a fish farm, which soon started to turn a profit.

"It is 10 times more profitable than traditional farming," Ling said.

Encouraged by his success, many villagers started to raise snakehead fish. Ling offered them free training, using 13 fishponds as a training base.

"I want to help more villagers start their own businesses as well," he said.

Ling is among an increasing number of young educated people who have returned home to work or start businesses.

Southwest China's Chongqing, with a population of 30 million, has long been a major source of labor to affluent coastal areas and big cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai.

However, the municipality now offers more and better opportunities for its young people.

As the only municipality in western China directly under the central government, the traditional industrial hub - located at the intersection of the Belt and Road Initiative's trade route and the Yangtze River Economic Zone - has witnessed rapid and steady economic growth in recent years.

Chongqing had the country's highest GDP growth rate for two consecutive years in 2014 and 2015.

The local government estimated that since 2012, about 1.6 million migrant workers from Chongqing have returned to work in their hometowns.

But the countryside needs more people like Ling - young, educated and experienced - who can lead their folks out of poverty.

Therefore, Chongqing has rolled out a series of favorable policies to attract local talent back home, including low-interest loans, tax cuts and free training programs.

The Yongchuan district government helped Ling apply for funding and technical support.

"However, living and working conditions in rural areas are less comfortable, so people should prepare for hardship," Ling said.

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