HANGZHOU HAS forged new business partnerships with 12 counties in the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze and six counties in the city of Guangyuan in western China’s Sichuan Province since it began pairing assistance with these two regions in April last year.

Gong Zhaolin Poultry and Fungus Ecological Farm, located in Guangyuan’s Hongyan Town, was opened last October in tandem with Hangzhou’s Gongshu District and Guangyuan’s Zhaohua District.

With a total investment of 200 million yuan (US$29.62 million), the farm covers an area of 420 hectares and primarily raises chickens, songrong (松茸), or matsutake mushroom which is a fungus highly coveted by foodies for its distinct spicy-aromatic flavor, and fuling (茯苓), a common herb widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. This year, the farm’s revenue is expected to reach 220 million yuan.

“The farm is a good example of east-west industrial collaboration. So far, more than 3.6 million yuan has been paid in wages and for machinery, improving the local employment situation,” said Chen Yue, chief of Hongyan Town.

Agriculture has always been a mainstay of paring assistance. Juicy fruits and fresh vegetables from Guangyuan are regularly shipped to Hangzhou.

In collaboration with retailer Hangzhou Lianhua Huashang Group, sales channels have been created to provide local residents with organic products from the assisted regions.

Hangzhou and Guangyuan collaborate under the “Zhejiang Market plus Sichuan Produce” mode, bringing Hangzhou’s progressive concepts to help boost local economy in western regions.

The Hangzhou-assisted farms focus intently on sanitation and the environment. Xinde Farm is equipped with a ventilation system that keeps air on the farm fresh and clean.

Poultry density is strictly limited to less than eight chickens per square meter. More importantly, every hen house is covered with an odorless probiotic bedding that helps manure decompose and improves animals’ immune systems.

The probiotic beddings are made from crushed branches and leaves from a nearby pine forest and are replenished every two weeks. Removing branches and leaves from the forest reduces the risk of wildfires and serves as a source of organic materials for the farm. After one year, the beddings are converted into fertilizer used in forests and grasslands.

To ensure quality, a non-cage breeding mode is used that allows chickens to naturally forage. They’re fed with grains and high-protein insects, which in turn feed insects with poultry manure.

“Clear waters and green mountains are as valuable as mountains of gold and silver. This is the vital concept we implement during the pairing process,” said Xu Lipeng, an official from Hangzhou and working in Guangyuan now.

This concept has been leveraged to develop a harmonious, symbiotic relationship between environmental protection and economic development. 

Hangzhou has spared no effort to develop sustainable modes that boost people’s wellbeing and preserve the environment in the pairing assistant.

Since Chinese government initiated the pairing assistance program in the 1990s to help poverty-stricken regions, Hangzhou has supported the development of 11 cities and 47 counties across eight provinces.

Throughout the many years of assistance, Hangzhou has prioritized the economies, education and health care in these areas. A group of government officials, doctors and teachers have been dispatched to raise living standards.

The first Hangzhou official was sent to the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region 11 years ago to assist with development. Ten vocational students from Xinjiang’s Aksu Prefecture are now studying hairstyling in Hangzhou, taught by professionals from across Zhejiang Province.

The first class was taught by Xu Yuanhua, one of Zhejiang’s top hairdressers who was awarded the title of “Hangzhou Craftspeople.” In addition to face-to-face classes, Xinjiang students tune in via livestreaming.