In a vegetable greenhouse, farmer Zhang Xueyun is busy preparing for the pollination of honeydew melons, whose bumper harvest is expected in two months, as per usual.
The greenhouse is located in a village of Lankao County, central China’s Henan Province, and covers an area of six mu (0.4 hectares). It was taken over by Zhang six years ago, who at the time was a layman growing melons.
“Some experts personally taught me planting techniques and scientific management methods for honeydew melons, which now earns me more than 100,000 yuan (about 14,528 U.S. dollars) every year,” Zhang said.
The experts Zhang refers to are volunteers from a service group under the county’s association for science and technology. Wearing red vests, they are active in the fields all year round and are dedicated to solving technical problems in agricultural production for the local farmers.
Once the volunteers receive a call from the growers, they immediately rush to the fields and use their professional knowledge to help solve any problems, said Wu Xianjiang, deputy head of the service group.
In recent years, more than 90,000 such service groups have been set up in China, covering a total of 4.2 million workers from the country’s associations for science and technology at all levels. Volunteers have been long committed to teaching and helping people in villages, factories, workshops and schools.
Lankao is one of the key regions where the sci-tech volunteers provide help. In 2017, it withdrew from the country’s list of impoverished counties, while facing obstacles in its industrial development.
At the time, local farmers in the county were less experienced in planting techniques and land management methods, resulting in poor-quality agricultural products that sold for a low price.
Therefore, a group of technical experts, who used to be engaged in fields such as pest control, agriculture protection and rice cultivation, were organized to guide the county’s farmers in scientific planting. It was the predecessor of the service group that Wu worked for.
Ren Jie, once a poor household in Lankao, mastered tomato planting techniques under the help from the experts. He soon became rich after his high-quality tomatoes were sold to the big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Now, he is also a volunteer of the service group.
“My life is getting better, and I want to impart useful planting skills to more villagers,” Ren said.
As more experts and technical workers have joined the service group, the number of volunteers has expanded to more than 300. They have solved a total of over 16,000 technical problems related to planting honeydew melons, fruit trees and vegetables.
Lankao has an annual crop planting area of about 800,000 mu, of which more than half have the footprints of the service group, said Chen Guoping, former leader of the county’s association for science and technology.https://kwicky.kanalytics.in/details?644742c83f2d3162ae35bd45-W