Leung On-lee (second from right) instructs local farmers in Hezhang county, Guizhou province, in cultivating flowers at her base in Tiejiang town. She has hired 30 local workers and occasionally hires 100 on a temporary basis. [Photo by Xiong Wanshan/For China Daily]
Flower cultivation helps transform community in Guizhou province as the scent of success takes root.
When Leung On-lee alighted from the aircraft and took a car to visit Jiucaiping, a scenic spot in Hezhang county, Guizhou province, in 2017 her life was about to change. An idea began to take root and, blossom, literally. She was at the invitation of a friend. The young woman who grew up in Hong Kong was soon attracted by the natural beauty that welcomed her.
“When the car was driving on a corkscrew mountain road, I saw wild leek flowers spread all over the mountain, and herders graze animals peacefully. I felt like I was having a vacation in a fairy tale,” says Leung.
The impression laid a basis for her later business in Hezhang. In the same year, Leung and her mother Chan Kit, a Hong Kong businesswoman, met Yang Weiqiang, an official who manages poverty alleviation in Guangdong province. He introduced his work and invited Leung and her mother to see if there were any business opportunities they could develop in Hezhang. Panyu district in Guangzhou city provides partner assistance to the county in Guizhou.
Thus, the 29-year-old embarked on a journey to help alleviate poverty in Hezhang.
“Yang told me poverty alleviation is really tough. He invited many entrepreneurs to start businesses in poverty-stricken areas, but in the end few of them lasted. I thought it sounded meaningful; though we were not sure what we could do, we would like to have a try,” she says.
Located in the Wumeng Mountain at an average altitude of nearly 2,000 meters, Hezhang is among the 52 counties that still retain the poverty label “because of its harsh natural conditions like fragmented and barren land, lack of water and lagging infrastructure development”, according to Wen Yongsong, director of Hezhang’s poverty alleviation and development office.
Then the wild flowers she saw in the county came into her mind. Leung organized a group of experts on flowers to investigate a dozen villages and towns in Hezhang, and was told that the high altitude, climate and temperature difference between day and night were all conducive to growing flowers.