Millionaire recalls winding road to success

Updated: 2013-05-28 07:41

(China Daily/Xinhua)

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Raising snakes has not only given Zhou Wenqian, 35, comfort and peace of mind, but also changed the course of her life.

Dubbed the "Queen of Snake-Raising" in Dalu village, Lingshan county in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, Zhou has found success with raising snakes since 2006. It is a major industry in the county, where about 1.7 million snakes are raised.

The impoverished village is Zhou's hometown. She runs a wildly successful snake-raising farm in Lingshan, where she not only raises the scaly reptiles, but also teaches snake-raising skills to people from across China hoping to break into the ophidian industry.

While serving as CEO of Wenqian Snake-Raising Base, Zhou is also raising more than 15,000 snakes. She mostly sells them to restaurants.

Though Zhou is now a millionaire, her success has been hard-won. Born and raised in a poor family, she dropped out of school to make money to support her three little brothers who continued their schooling. With an annual income of less than 10,000 yuan ($1,600), she was only making ends meet while living in a very small tile-roofed house with her husband.

About 10 years ago, she learned that premature chicken eggs, which were produced by the chicken farm, are the best food for snakes, and that snake-raising could guarantee her a desirable income.

Zhou decided to try her hand at snake farming in 2006, but her entry into the industry didn't yield immediate success. When her snakes were ready to hit the market, almost all 1,000 snakes died due to insufficient sterilization.

After a tearful night, Zhou got up and started over, paying more attention to details, like how to prevent illnesses in snakes.

Then, in 2009, her husband was bit by a cobra they raised. Days of emergency treatment narrowly saved him from death.

After her husband recovered, they continued taking care of the snakes, still hoping to shake off poverty.

The couple's efforts finally paid off. In 2010, their snakes sold very well in the market and the couple eventually earned around 80,000 yuan.

The first taste of success was a huge inspiration that has contributed to her continued success.

Zhou made the transformation from an ordinary farmer to a snake-raising queen in just seven years, raking in a staggering 3 million yuan last year.

She and her husband have upgraded from their small, tile-roofed house, and they also own a car now. Still, Zhou is not satisfied, and she is now showing others how to profit in the industry.

"Snake-raising was a low-production industry in the past due to a lack of industry expertise. I want to help my peers by sharing my experiences with them," Zhou said.

Local government statistics show that snake-raising has created about 60,000 jobs in Lingshan and helped ease the local unemployment problem.

Feng Dejin, deputy director of Lingshan's Forestry Bureau, said that Zhou is a very good example of farmers living the Chinese dream, which involves making life better with the spirit of diligence and persistence.

"The farmers in Lingshan are humble, hard-working and possess a sense of sharing, and I believe that such a spirit will create more success stories like Zhou's," he said.