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Village CEO helps revitalize livelihoods in rural Yunnan
By:China Daily
update:December 21,2023

A rural CEO (second from left) guides villagers on growing plants in a town in Zhuji, Zhejiang province, in May. XU YU/XINHUA
Dec.21, 2023 -- The story of a village CEO who helped revitalize a small village recently became a sensation on micro-blogging platform Weibo.
Bai Ling, 28, assumed the role in August 2022, breathing new life into Yunzhong Miao village in Zhaotong city, Yunnan province.
The small Miao ethnic village had fewer than 600 residents, and struggled with a single-industry focus and weak agricultural foundations.
Working with the local government, a team from China Agricultural University's National Rural Revitalization Research Institute began guiding the establishment of a village CEO team in 2021.
Upon becoming the CEO, Bai leveraged the village's tourism resources to initiate projects such as minsu (Chinese-style bed-and-breakfast), a coffee shop and the promotion of local cuisine, fostering the development of the tourism industry.
A graduate of Yunnan Technology and Business University majoring in accounting, Bai had valuable experience working in the catering industry, holding roles such as accountant, purchasing specialist, and head of logistics before assuming the position of a village CEO.
"Village CEOs should introduce market-oriented development models into rural operations. We need to develop a reasonable growth plan based on the financial conditions of our village, steadily moving forward," he said.
The village has so far established attractions such as a 100-meter barbecue corridor and a "flower sea", and has welcomed 320,000 visitors, generating revenue of 3.2 million yuan ($450,000). In 2022, the residents' annual per capita income increased by more than 5,000 yuan.
Hou Yufeng, a lecturer at the College of Humanities and Development Studies of China Agricultural University, hailed the village's achievement as a beneficial collaboration between the university and the local government.
He said that by mobilizing villagers to collectively build their community, the village has set a good example and progressively advanced shared prosperity in rural areas.
The success of Yunzhong Miao village has led to a revival, drawing young individuals back to start businesses, such as study tour agencies, minsu and handicraft shops.
However, Bai acknowledged the need for diversification, and steering the village toward richer and more operationally valuable experiences.
"After the initial surge in visitors, it's crucial to clarify our development positioning, and avoid rural tourism becoming a one-time consumption. We need to delve into the cultural essence of Miao for sustainable rural tourism development. This is the key to long-term development," Bai said.
"Currently, minsu and catering are our main sources of income. We are now developing the secondary industry, which involves processing agricultural and sideline products and livestreaming sales on the internet."
By: Li Yingqing, Zhao Ruinan
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