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Nurturing specialty industries fundamental to rural development success

By LIU ZIZHENG | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-15 09:59
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Consumers try on hanfu, the traditional attire of the Han ethnic group, at a production base in Caoxian county, Heze, Shandong province, in March. [LIANG BEN/CHINA NEWS SERVICE]

Over the past few years, farmers across China have stepped up efforts to develop specialty industries and promote industrial upgrading based on local characteristics, which has not only bolstered the country's rural vitalization, but also contributed to the development of new quality productive forces.

Meanwhile, State Grid Corp of China, a State-owned electric utility firm, said it has given sound support to the development of rural industries through continuous efforts in optimizing customer services and ensuring stable power supplies.

In Shijiagou village of Yantai, East China's Shandong province, over 20,000 dark blue solar panels are neatly arranged on the roofs of a breeding farm, converting sunlight into green electricity. Beneath the solar panels, flocks of white-feathered chickens leisurely peck at their feed.

"Utilizing the advantageous conditions of large roof areas, unobstructed sunlight and ample illumination at the breeding farm, we have combined agricultural breeding with photovoltaic power generation, establishing a harmonious co-location of green electricity," said Sun Ximin, the person in charge of the breeding farm.

Co-location, also known as agrivoltaics or dual-use solar, involves agricultural activities underneath solar panels — or adjacent to solar panels.

The innovative agrivoltaic farming model has not only improved land use efficiency, but also brought villagers additional income. This year, the farm has raised over 30 million white-feathered chickens, Sun added.

In addition, the model saves electricity costs, achieving the dual-empowerment of enterprise development and green electricity.

Zhou Mi, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, said the agrivoltaic farming model sets a good example of ecological environment improvement.

"It enables farmers to utilize land resources more effectively. For regions with insufficient land resources, such a model could help avoid possible resource conflicts," said Zhou.

"Meanwhile, Chinese people's enthusiasm for participating in photovoltaics advancement, energy transition and low-carbon development could also be notably enhanced."

He added that there is still ample room for the model to expand further. Efforts should be made to promote the maintenance of relevant devices and improve energy storage technologies, based on local characteristics.

According to State Grid Penglai Power Supply Co of Yantai, Sun's agrivoltaics farm utilizes 55,000 square meters of idle roof space, installing 5.9 megawatts of solar panels, with an annual power generation capacity of approximately 8.4 million kilowatt-hours.

When it comes to the whole city, there are 81,342 distributed photovoltaic households, with a total installed capacity of nearly 3 million kW.

The company said it aims to further promote the integrated development of "power supply + energy efficiency", and ensure the smooth implementation of photovoltaic power generation projects.

Efforts will also be made to strengthen daily inspections, improve relevant facilities and integrate agrivoltaic farming models into the local power grid, the company added.

Around 750 kilometers away, a more complete industrial chain of hanfu, the traditional attire of the Han ethnic group, is expected to take shape in Caoxian county, Heze, Shandong, this year.

Renowned for manufacturing cost-effective products, Caoxian achieved 7.22 billion yuan ($1 billion) in hanfu sales last year.

The county currently has a total of 2,282 firms, 13,989 online stores and 100,000 staff members dedicated to the hanfu business.

Since the beginning of this year, Caoxian has ramped up efforts to build a new manufacturing park, which is expected to support the upgrading of the local hanfu e-commerce industry.

Zhou, the researcher, said that in recent years, consumers in China have shown an increasing preference for products with Chinese cultural elements, including hanfu attire.

Therefore, it is necessary for the country to further optimize and supplement relevant resources, especially power resources. Electricity suppliers should continue to improve both the accuracy and efficiency of customer services, said Zhou.

In addition, during major holidays and promotional activities, power suppliers should open "green channels" for hanfu manufacturers to ensure stable supplies, thereby contributing to the recovery and upgrading of domestic consumption, Zhou added.

His remarks dovetail with what the local power supplier has done to help the county expand its hanfu industrial chain.

State Grid's Caoxian Power Supply Co said it had made it more convenient for local customers to obtain their services.

The company said it takes into account all the local hanfu business clusters. A series of service stations have been set up in large communities and villages home to hanfu factories, e-commerce firms, warehouses, and logistics outlets.

The company said it has also compiled a detailed list of local electric facilities and established an emergency response team that is on call 24/7. Whenever there is an issue, the team will be on site within 10 minutes.

Cooperating with the local government, the company regularly sends staff members to visit hanfu firms, so as to gather their suggestions for power supply and keep abreast of industrial development.

"The power supplier guides us to use electricity more smartly. Thanks to them, now we have no worries on this front," said the owner of a local hanfu factory.

The company has so far built 11 new electric transformers for Caoxian, connecting 6.9 kilometers of power supply lines, which has significantly empowered industrial upgrading in the county.

The moves came after the release of this year's No 1 Central Document in February, which encourages rural areas to actively develop specialty industries and cultivate local brands based on their own characteristics.

The document also said China will continue to optimize the agro-processing industry utilizing intelligent technologies, construct a better logistics system for agricultural products and promote the high-quality development of rural e-commerce.

As a result, this year the country is expected to accelerate the construction of a modern rural industrial system, and further promote the integration of the primary, secondary and tertiary industries.

The document also stressed efforts to consolidate and improve rural power grids, as well as drive the development of distributed renewable energies for rural areas.

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