China, 14 Oct 2002 -- Today, the FAO Regional Office in Bangkok has issued the 2002 Y.S. Rao Award to five outstanding farmers from the Asia-Pacific Region. The farmers received the award from the minister of Agriculture and Cooperatives of Thailand, HE Sora-at Klinpratoom, during the 2002 World Food Day Celebration in Bangkok.
Below please find the citation used during the ceremony to highlight the achievements of the farmer from China.
Shi Guangyin, China, outstanding agroforester
Shi Guangyin is 59 years old, married, has four children and lives in Sidahao village, Haiziliang Township in Dingbian County in China’s north-west Shanxi province. Over the past 40 years, Mr Shi has successfully fought back the Maowusu desert that once made farming extremely difficult in Dingbian. He has controlled 13 000 hectares of sandy land by planting a 50-km protection belt of trees and shrubs. In 1986, he set up China’s first such desert controlling company in partnership with other farmers. About 300 households are now taking part in the desert control operation and more than 60 percent of former desert land is now covered with trees and shrubs with an estimated commercial value of about USD$4 million.
Mr Shi’s efforts have brought prosperity to one of the country’s poorest regions. Wheat yields have gone up by as much as 40 times in his village and all families have new houses. Sidahao has become a model for other areas in Dingbian that still remain below the national poverty line. His company has an annual gross income of about US$130 000 and fixed assets worth close to US$ 1.5 million.
Mr Shi has set up an elementary school and a night school for farmers in his village. He has attracted wide media publicity in China and won national awards such as National Poverty-Alleviation Hero and Excellent Greening Individual. He has been invited for meetings with top national leaders including with President Jiang Zemin, and attended conferences of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). He believes that farmers in China and other countries can follow his example and create prosperity even out of harsh conditions.
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