Disabled farmers hope to reap brighter future

Updated: 2012-04-18 22:39

By Liu Ce, Wu Yong and Hanjunhong (chinadaily.com.cn)

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Wu Haiying has been busy answering calls from people trying to help him sell 78,000 kilograms of organic millet.

"I've received more than 100 calls these past two days," said Wu delightedly.

The farmer in Changling county, Jilin province, who is paralyzed and uses a wheelchair, had been worrying about the grain products grown by him and his fellow co-workers, most of whom are also farmers with disabilities.

When a local newspaper published a story seeking help, kindhearted residents around the province began offering help.

In addition, a local mall has provided a place for Wu to sell the millet.

"We are touched by their ceaseless self-improvement," said a manager of the Ouya shopping mall quoted by Changchun-based City Evening News.

"The flow of customers to our mall will help them, I think. If this works out well, we may help them for the long term."

Wu is planning to participate in agricultural expositions this year and find a partner to solve the problem of sales.

"We finally found hope. If only we can sell out this millet, we will be able to stand on our own feet," Wu said.

The 43-year-old was ill with polio when he was 3, and since then has accepted help from others. So he wants to make his own contribution to society.

"I want to do something practical and to help other people like me."

In 2009, Wu organized 150 disabled people in his village to form a cooperative, which was supposed to bring them wealth.

Wu bought seeds worth 100,000 yuan ($15,900) in the spring of 2010 and started to grow organic millet. He requested all the millet be fertilized with farmyard manure and promised to share the money fairly.

However, things did not go as smoothly as Wu had imagined.

They could not find buyers for the 120,000 kg of millet they harvested because they did little pre-market research.

As a result, Wu Haiying and Xia Yanhui, Wu's wife, traveled to many cities in the province looking for buyers but only sold about one-third of the millet.

To prevent the millet from spoiling, the cooperative decided not to distribute the money but to buy airtight packaging with the money.

The airtight packaging can guarantee the quality of millets for at least two years.

"We went to nearly every market in the city at that time in the hope that someone would buy all the crops. But we failed. All I could think about was millet," said Xia.

"They trusted me and followed me to grow millet. I can't let them lose their money," Wu added.

So he asked local media for help.

"We do not need sympathy or donations from society. We are disabled, but we can still farm. We have good products, which already have Green Food Certification. We only need to improve our ways of management."

"Last year, we borrowed money to buy seeds and fertilizers. If we cannot take back the money this year, the cooperative may go bankrupt. My dream of leading them to wealth will be broke also," Wu added.

Thanks to the media, Wu's difficulty has won many positive responses from society as well as local government.

"It is very valuable that Wu Haiying is willing to lead more disabled to earn wealth. We will try our best to help him apply for assistance funds to stimulate the development of the cooperative," said Li Changxi, head of the agricultural bureau of Changling county, on April 18.

"But the cooperative may have to be dissolved if we can't sell the crops, and we need money for the upcoming ploughing season. So please help us if you are able to, call me at 13321521530," said Wu.