In recent years, Xiayingzi village in north China's Hebei Province has witnessed a rise in prosperity through the cultivation of traditional Chinese medicinal herbs. The village has become a core demonstration area for herbal medicines, boosting the development of rural tourism.
Deep within the Yanshan Mountains in Luanping county, Hebei, the village boasts 104 varieties of traditional Chinese medicinal herbs, including high-quality Baikal skullcap.
Photo shows a view of the planting base of traditional Chinese medicinal herbs in Xiayingzi village, Luanping county, north China’s Hebei Province. (People’s Daily Overseas Edition/Shi Zhipeng)
Sun Shihe, a native of Xiayingzi, began running businesses outside the village in 1993. However, he returned in 2014, aiming to lead his fellow villagers toward prosperity.
Considering the limited arable land per person in this small mountainous village - less than 2 mu (approximately 0.13 hectares) - Sun, in collaboration with the village officials, resolved to develop the herbal medicine industry, capitalizing on the village's advantageous natural conditions.
Sun then founded a company to construct a unique medicinal herb-centric "town" as a special area for herbal medicines. With the support of local government and the villagers, this "town" transformed from a simple traditional Chinese medicinal herb cultivation base into a modern industrial hub that integrates the display, ecological cultivation, and breeding of superior varieties of medicinal herbs with tourism.
Employees work at the herbal tea plant in Xiayingzi village, Luanping county, north China’s Hebei Province. (People’s Daily Overseas Edition/Shi Zhipeng)
Thanks to the development of locally-featured industries, villagers have increased their incomes in various ways, including through land use rights rentals, wages and bonuses from the industrial base, and sales of local specialties, noted Bai Guijuan, Party chief of Xiayingzi village.
Bai highlighted that the per capita income in the village surged from just over 3,000 yuan ($421) in 2015 to upwards of 10,000 yuan in 2022.
Liu Guiyun, 54, who works in the base growing traditional Chinese medicinal herbs, once belonged to a poverty-stricken family in Xiayingzi village.
"I used to plant corn but couldn't really earn much money," Liu shared. She now makes over 2,000 yuan annually from land use rights transfers and earns a monthly salary of 2,000 yuan at the medicinal herb planting base.
Several years ago, Sun's company established a herbal tea plant with automated production lines to process medicinal herbs harvested from Xiayingzi and neighboring villages.
Liang Jinyun, a resident of the nearby Jin'goutun village, is employed at the herbal tea plant, earning over 2,000 yuan per month. "I can reach the plant in 10 minutes by motorbike. It's incredibly convenient to earn money while still close to home and family,” Liang said.
A photo shows a view of the small “town,” renowned as a special area for herbal medicines in Xiayingzi village, Luanping county, north China's Hebei Province. (Photo courtesy of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Luanping County Committee)
As the unique "town" of herbal medicines continues to attract tourists, Xiayingzi has expanded its tourism offerings, including herbal medicine-themed tours, educational visits, and historical tourism. In 2022, the village welcomed over 60,000 tourists, generating revenue exceeding 8 million yuan. During this year's five-day May Day holiday, the village received over 1,000 visitors daily.
The successful development of Xiayingzi owes much to the efforts of Zuo Songtao, who began his tenure as the village's first Party secretary in 2021.
To better promote the development of Xiayingzi, Zuo decided to improve the village's infrastructure. He assisted State Power Investment Corporation Limited in erecting 350 streetlamps and repairing 160 existing ones. Zuo also coordinated with the Luanping county government to allocate government funds for agriculture and rural areas, resulting in the construction of a paved road for sightseeing stretching over 6,000 meters and an embankment of more than 500 meters.
Zuo Songtao (R), first Party secretary of Xiayingzi village in north China's Hebei Province, works with villagers. (Photo courtesy of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Luanping County Committee)
Zuo also led villagers in honey processing and production techniques, seeking external expertise and inviting a company to provide guidance. Through his efforts, a cooperative was established in the village, leading to the creation of a honey brand. This expanded sales channels for bee farmers and increased the village's collective income.
Over the past two years, Zuo has successfully secured nearly 10 million yuan in assistance funds from enterprises and the local community. Additionally, he played a crucial role in attracting approximately 20 million yuan of investment to the village.
Bai remarked that Zuo's contributions extended to attracting funds to build greenhouses, making Xiayingzi a demonstration village of red tourism and showcasing distinctive folk customs. Zuo also initiated programs to support left-behind children and organized various recreational activities within the village.