In November 2012, Huazhong Agricultural University (HAU) started to deliver poverty relief support to Jianshi County in Hubei Province, which is located in the Wuling mountain area, one of China’s 14 poorest regions. The university launched four projects to fuel the development of compulsory education, train agricultural talent, boost agricultural production, and facilitate cultural industries respectively.
Dispatching volunteer teachers to rural schools
Since 2013, HAU’s nationally well-known Benyu Volunteer Team has sent 25 postgraduates to work in a primary school in Jianshi. Through a rural teacher training program, the team invites local outstanding primary teachers every year to receive a week of training in Wuhan, the city where the university is located. It mobilizes resources from the private sector to improve the teaching facilities in compulsory education schools. It has also implemented the project of inviting left-behind children to visit cities, and explored the establishment of a personal development support mechanism that will benefit students from families facing financial difficulties.
Providing capacity building assistance
Building on its expertise in the fields of agriculture, technology and education, the HAU provided training services for 387 administrative workers and technicians from the county. It also sent volunteers to farm fields and factory workshops to offer on-site training. In total, 142 agricultural technology training sessions have been organized, benefiting 11,695 farmers, skilled workers in specific industries and leaders of farmer professional cooperatives.
Mobilizing scientists to offer technical support to agricultural production
Since 2013, HAU has dispatched 24 doctors to the county to offer volunteer services, including technical consultation, industrial investigation, production guidance and social observation. Professor GONG Yanchang from the College of Animal Science and Technology, for example, promoted the application of efficient chicken breeding technology, doubling the production of Jingyang chicken, a popular local meat breed, generating around 60 million RMB annually.
Providing branding and marketing services for local products
To conserve and promote local intangible cultural heritage, the HAU volunteers also offered brand design and publicity services for a number of products, including bamboo handicrafts, Tujia brocade and local specialties. They also designed visual brand identities for kiwi and other six industries that have played a big role in poverty alleviation.