Words by Carl Jobson
Have you been enjoying Wimbledon this year? As you can see from the picture above, we’ve certainly been enjoying our fair share of strawberries in the office! A couple of weeks ago Major Heather Poxon, Director of International Development, was in China visiting a number of projects run by The Salvation Army in some of the most rural parts of this vast country.
One of the communities she visited was Chikai village in the Great Nujiang valley. The people there mainly live off a diet of maize, potatoes and rice and most people in the community live below the extreme poverty line (approx £1 a day).
One of the people she met while she was there was Mr Yu.
Entrepreneur Mr Yu with his strawberries
Mr Yu is something of an entrepreneur and enjoys experimenting with crops and their production. Despite there being no history of strawberry planting in the area, a few years ago Mr Yu decided to start trying his hand at doing just that. His first attempt was hampered by rain so the growth was poor, so he tried planting again later in the year and had a very successful yield. The fruit has proved very popular on the markets and the demand has now outstretched the supply. Even tourists are coming in from other counties to pick up strawberries, and Mr Yu is now known well over 100 miles away!
Mr Yu is keen to pass on his knowledge and would like his community to benefit financially from these cash crops. The Salvation Army is supporting the community by providing loans to families so they can purchase the plants and material they need. When they pay the loan back, the funds will then be used to help other families have similar loans.
By growing strawberries and other crops, the people of Chikai village have the potential to increase their income by up to six times their current earnings, transforming their lives and helping to propel themselves out of poverty – Game, Set and Match!
Find out more about our work supporting small scale farmers here.