About ARDY’s customer Luo QiRong.
Luo QiRong took a long-distance bus in Chengdu to return to Yilong County. The trip took 4 hours of bumpy riding on the rugged path to the hometown of Zhu De in Yilong. The old and crude buildings in this county exemplified the despair in the country’s poorest counties.
Luo QiRong was a farmer in good health. Even at the age of 60, he still walked easily through the mud while carrying items that weighed several kilograms in his hands. Luo QiRong did not include many formalities in his speech; instead, he talked simply and honestly like a farmer. Although he lacked tact, his words showed his confidence and pride. Before joining ARDY, Luo Qirong was engaged only in agricultural farming and produced just enough to live by. However, whenever a natural disaster occurred, he had to rely on governmental subsidies.
Luo QiRong always believed that farming could not get him rich so he wanted to get involved with industrial development. However, he needed capital so he applied for a loan from the bank. The bank refused his application because they were afraid he would be unable to repay it.
In 2001, ARDY went to the village to publicize microfinance and develop loaning groups. Luo QiRong immediately joined. He felt that this kind of loaning method was good. The loan focused on the project and was divided up to many installments in one year. The repayment amounts were not large burdens and easier to return. From that day on, the amount of capital Luo QiRong had changed significantly…
Money is not enough without a profitable business project. Luo had just a project in mind. He originally planted many imported varieties of citrus trees. Every year the trees could bore ripe citrus fruits that weighed up to 250 grams. Unfortunately, because of pests, the trees always had low production. This was when Luo found the highly nutritious persimmons. Persimmon trees had fewer pests and were easier to manage. After processing, the persimmons and the persimmon leaves, which became tea leaves, could bring in high profits. Furthermore, basically no one had entered this business yet.
In 2001, he borrowed 1,000 RMB to purchase persimmon seeds from multiple places. He then independently grew the seeds and grafted the plants. He grew these trees all over his 20-acre land, eventually owning about 3200 persimmon trees. In addition, Luo QiRong placed soybean plants in between the trees. The soybean plants did not take up a lot of space and could provide fertilizer for the trees.
At the same time of starting a good business for himself, Luo did not forget those around him. He gave fellow villagers an abundance of persimmon seedlings. The most he had ever given was 800 saplings to one household! That year, he also sold many of his persimmon saplings and earned several thousand RMB. In addition to persimmon saplings, he also sold mulberry saplings, earning another 3000 RMB.
In 2002, when he asked for a loan again, he also became a leader of the microfinance loaning group.. this time he did not limit himself to persimmons, he wanted to construct fish ponds and begin breeding fish.
Up until this year (2009), he has participated in 5 loans, and spent a total of 38,000 RMB. He has built 3 fish ponds near the river and 3 river weirs using cement and metal reinforcing bars. Before, villagers built temporary river weirs in order to water their plants; but when the water rose, these weirs get destroyed. Now, with these new constructions, they not only facilitated the supply of water to the ponds, but also solved the nearby irrigation problem. According to Luo’s saying, these weirs could be used for a century.
Moreover, Luo asked someone to build a small water pump to control the flow of river water into his fish ponds. Because these 3 fish ponds needed electricity to pump in oxygen, Luo QiRong decided to buy a used hydroelectric machine.
During this process, Luo encountered many difficulties. Last year, his pond had a hole that allowed all the fish to escape, creating a loss of more than 10,000 RMB. This year, he asked for guidance from experts and invited 8-9 workers to renovate his fish ponds.
Luo QiRong also contracted the village reservoir for 300 RMB and was responsible for its management. He bred fish in the reservoir, raised several mountain goats on the dam overgrown with green grass, and propagated 50 geese. His idea was to create a natural cycle. The soil near the reservoir was perfect to grow grass, which could be eaten by goats and the geese. The waste products from the goats and geese would flow into the reservoir to become food for the fish. There would be no pollution and no need for too much management.
To collect the fish, Luo spent 3000 RMB for the construction of an iron boat and 2 large nets (100m x 8 m). Not only could he use these boats for his own fish, but he could also use them to help other fishing companies, earning him up to 150 RMB/day.
His income did not solely rely on persimmons and raising animals. He also had the ability to treat stomach diseases. Many people went to his home to ask for treatments. He could earn an annual income up to 20,000 RMB, but he often asked for no charges for the local villagers.
Participating in microfinance has allowed Luo QiRong to have an annual income of 40,000 RMB, leaving poverty forever. He said that the income from growing grain could not compare with growing fruit trees. He calculated that 18 m2 could grow 200 kg. of grain with each 500 g selling for 70 cents. The income from grain would only be 280 RMB, while the income from fish 20,000 RMB! Thus, Luo emphasized reform and regulation of production.
Luo took his earnings and not only renovated his house but also reinvested in his projects. For example, last August he went to Sanxi to learn how to make dried persimmon and plan to head toward that industry.
Throughout his career, Luo QiRong endured many different obstacles. One worker asked them many times, “Why do you not just pay a little more than 10 RMB to buy fish to eat? Why go build this random fish pond?”
Luo replied, “I build all these things so that my next generation and my next next generation could enjoy them. All my relatives and friends around me could benefit!” In truth, while Luo QiRong was finding wealth for himself, he brought wealth and did many things for those around him. In addition to giving away persimmon samplings and constructing weirs, he also built a small cement bridge over his fish pond for 9000 RMB. Before, the children had to walk through the small brook to go to school, which was okay when the water level was low. When the water level increased, the children found it difficult to pass through. Now they could walk across the bridge safely to school, causing the villagers to be grateful to Luo.
Recently, a television station came to his home to visit his production projects and interview him. This July 1st, the local member of the Party Committee gave him the title “Leader to Producing Weath.”
(Translated by Liu YuLiang and Jennifer Yau)