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Returnees bring hometown back to life

By Zheng Jinran | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-08 08:34

Returnees bring hometown back to life

Wu Peishan (right), a beekeeper in Yichun, Heilongjiang province, checks the status of the bees and honey on her farm last month. Wu returned to her hometown from Beijing to start the beekeeping business in 2014. [Photo by Cai Cheng/For China Daily]

Having worked and lived in Beijing for years, Wu Peishan decided to change direction and dedicate herself to the simple life - beekeeping in her hometown of Yichun, Heilongjiang province. In the process, she dramatically lifted her income and that of others.

"My hometown is known as the 'forest capital' and has high quality honey because of the vast forest, but few people know that, and many prefer to pay a lot of money to buy imported honey," said Wu, 35. "That's unfortunate."

Forests cover 84.4 percent of Yichun's 33,000 square kilometers, making it one of the greenest cities in China.

Wu worked with beekeepers to produce sealed mature honey, which contains no additives, and then sell it for 1,000 yuan ($149) per kilogram. They are able to ask a high price because of the pollution-free environment from which it comes.

The beekeepers' earnings have at least doubled since they started working with Wu.

"Many people go far away to dig for gold, but they ignore the treasure in front of their door," she said. "In Yichun, there is a huge potential for development."

She said she and others plan to build a special town with a honey theme, where visitors can enjoy the green forest and experience the honey-making process and other activities.

The city's population has shrunk from more than 1.3 million before 2000 to 1.21 million, mainly because of a declining logging industry.

"But we have confidence that many will come back as we boost our economy," said Han Ku, the city's mayor.

Many other skilled young workers plan to start new companies.

In July, the city government invited many Yichun-born entrepreneurs to return and found many to be enthusiastic. Others have returned to find jobs at new plants.

Gao Chunlei returned after 11 years to make sculptures in a factory - "because I earn more and have more benefits".

Zhou Liyong, owner of the plant where Gao works, said he gives workers better welfare benefits to keep them with the company.

"We need them during our expansion," Zhou said.

 

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