Shiye Town: An Emerald on the Yangtze

2022-09-19 15:38:30 | Author:Li Xiaochun and Yan Peijuan |

The turnoff along the approach span of the Runyang Yangtze River Bridge will take you to the island sitting right in the middle of the Yangtze waters. This is Shiye Town in Zhenjiang City, Jiangsu Province, a quintessential southern Yangtze setting, replete with lush foliage and paddy fields.

Shiye Town is surrounded by waters of the Yangtze, an inherent deficiency that has plagued infrastructure development on the island. The common saying "Shiye Island yields a good harvest only one year in ten," passed down for generations among island residents, speaks to just how difficult life was here in the past. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, however, Shiye has vigorously developed high-efficiency agriculture and industry and managed to transform itself into one of the stars of Zhenjiang City. On December 13, 2014, President Xi Jinping visited Shiye Town. In the town hospital, he learned about rural medical and health programs and the situation concerning medical treatment. During the visit, he pointed out, "A moderately prosperous society in all respects cannot be achieved without good health for all." He also toured the Four Seasons Spring Agricultural Park in Xianfeng Village to learn about the development of modern agriculture and stressed that "modern and efficient agriculture was a good path for realizing prosperity for farmers." In the village of Yongmaowei, President Xi urged local officials to promote coordination between urban and rural areas and take concrete steps to boost urban-rural integration, so as to make villages beautiful places where residents can enjoy peaceful lives and contentment in their work.

Keeping in mind President Xi's instructions, Shiye Town has strived to develop itself as an island of ecology, music, tourism, and rural scenery. It has taken major steps to develop an eco-friendly economy that integrates efficient agriculture, leisure, tourism, and health.

Leading farmers to prosperity through efficient agriculture

At the Four Seasons Spring Agricultural Park in the middle of April, the picking of elevated strawberries has reached the closing stages. Farm owner Ye Minglan is now trying out something new: growing "red cheek" strawberry seedlings through tabletop cultivation. In the greenhouse holding the containers, a long row of green mother plants sits between two rows of white containers with many openings and filled with seedling substrate. "With the guidance of a professor from Yangzhou University, we can yield 15 daughter plants from one mother plant. The seedling tunnel—0.93 hectare in size—can yield about 300,000 strawberry mother plants," said Ye Minglan. She explained that whereas strawberry seedlings purchased outside have a survival rate of about 60%, the tabletop cultivated plants are not only free from diseases and pests but have a survival rate of almost 95%. These 300,000 mother plants not only supply Ye Minglan's 0.8-hectare cultivation tunnels but also satisfy the needs of the 6.6 hectares of strawberry cultivation tunnels in Shiye Town. For the past seven years, the area of land in Shiye farmed with modern and efficient techniques has increased to 400 hectares, producing an average return of over 150,000 yuan per hectare. In addition, the varieties cultivated have also been greatly diversified. "We have attracted investment projects from various sources, including Golden Ages Healthy Life program, which cultivates wormwood and dendrobium officinale; Zhenjiang Runqing Agricultural Ecology Science Park, which grows pecan nuts; Zhenjiang Nonggu Agricultural Science Park, which focuses on the cultivation of corn; and the Shiye flower cultivation project. In addition to receiving a leasing fee of 12,000 yuan per hectare, farmers can also obtain employment on these projects," said Nie Yongping, vice head of Shiye Town. The average disposable income of town residents jumped from 17,433 yuan in 2015 to 26,500 yuan in 2021.


An aerial view of Xianfeng Village under the jurisdiction of Shiye Town. PROVIDED BY THE PUBLICITY DEPARTMENT OF THE CPC JIANGSU PROVINCIAL COMMITTEE

Developing a low-carbon island with a beautiful environment

From the front door of the Hong family courtyard in Yongmaowei Village, you can see fish swimming in a crystalline stream right in front of you and fields of young wheat rolling into the distance. An almost picture-perfect existence peacefully unfolds in the Hong family home, which has four generations living under its roof. "We now have stunning scenery right outside our door." The statement is Hong Jiayong's summation of the achievements of Shiye in carrying out Xi Jinping's instructions over the past seven years. Responding to the requirement for the overall protection of the Yangtze River, Shiye Town has accelerated greening and afforestation programs along its riverbanks, invested 20 million yuan in the ecological restoration of four riverside areas and two shipyards, and greened close to 133 hectares of land. Acting on President Xi's statement that "the toilet problem is not an insignificant matter," Shiye Town has upgraded toilet facilities and sewage systems in rural areas, improving facilities in 4,500 households, laying 107 kilometers of sewage pipe, and opening 2 sewage processing plants. Since 2015, the town has closed 4 boat building and repair companies, 3 gravel docks, and over 40 livestock and poultry farms to completely free the island of polluting industries. The most beautiful time of the year on the island is April when the canola plants, crab apple trees, cherry trees, and pear trees all begin to bloom. In the square in Xianfeng Village, 70-year-old resident Song Shouping is sitting by the river, enjoying the flowers. "I was born and raised in Shiye and have witnessed the vast changes in the living environment here," said Song. He explained the island's small streams once served as sewers. But since the streams were cleaned up, the waters are clear again and everyone now consciously works to safeguard the environment. These days residents live and work in contentment, and the beautiful environment is also a draw for tourists.

Protecting people's health to realize moderate prosperity

Shiye Hospital, located in the town center, is responsible for serving the residents in five surrounding villages. "A moderately prosperous society in all respects cannot be achieve d without good health for all." This banner, which has hung in the main hall on the hospital's ground floor for the past seven years, is comforting to see. The hospital has adopted a new approach of prescribing patients with regular physical exercise, with the aim of ensuring that people don't have to leave the island for minor illnesses and spend less money on treatment for major illnesses. Sha Weichun, 59, has been on medicine to control high blood sugar and high blood pressure for an extended period. On January 7 this year, the head of the hospital, Hu Xiaozhong, prescribed Sha 40 minutes to 1 hour of brisk walking each day. After strictly following the prescription, Sha Weichun's blood sugar and blood pressure returned to normal levels. "Your prescription of exercise has made a real difference, Director Hu," said Sha, during an appointment with the doctor. "In just three months, my fasting blood sugar levels have dropped below 5mmol/L. Is there a need to continue taking medication?" asked Sha. Doctor Hu replied that he would need to observe Sha for a while longer before completely taking him off his medication. To provide effective physical and mental health services to the residents of Shiye Town, the hospital has put together five teams with responsibility for family health, which provide at-home health services to residents in the island's five villages one day per month. These teams have already established 12,700 electronic health records. They have also set up six outpatient clinics in collaboration with four municipal hospitals in Zhenjiang. These steps have been widely praised by the residents of the five villages.

(Originally appeared in Qiushi Journal, Chinese edition, No. 11-12, 2022)

Source: English Edition of Qiushi Journal,No.4, 2022