Noodle-making business fills villagers’ pockets

DM Monitoring

TIANJIN: Faced with rugged terrain, scarcity of arable land and inconvenient logistics, many young people in Dazhai Village of Tanchang County in northwest China’s Gansu Province had to leave home to make a living for their family.
But now, a noodle-making factory has helped the villagers find a way to walk out of poverty and stay home.
Gang Hao, 27, was assigned to Dazhai to help with poverty alleviation in 2018. The first day he came from Tianjin University in north China’s Tianjin Municipality, which pairs up with Tanchang County to fight poverty, he began going door to door to meet villagers. At the very beginning, it was difficult for him to understand the dialect which is very different from Mandarin.
“If I want to earn people’s trust and know them better, I should eat and drink with them to know the real conditions of this place,” said Gang, who can now fluently chat with the villagers.
A month later, Gang found that the villagers could make noodles in various ways and ate them almost every day. “Since I did not adapt to the eating habit here and was under heavy pressure of finding a suitable way to lift all families out of poverty, I lost 10 kg just in two months,” Gang said.
However, the bowls of noodles gave him an inspiration. “Why not establish a noodle-making factory in the village?” he thought to himself.
“In Tanchang County, some families may consume about 2 kg of noodles a day,” Gang said. However, production of noodles was not industrialized on a large scale to meet the huge market demand. “I needed to make sure that the noodle factory ran for a long time. So that even after I went back to Tianjin, the villagers could still benefit from it,” he said. Then, he found He Xiwen, a young man in the county with experience of working in big cities. Gang appointed him manager of the factory.
“At first, I didn’t know what I could do if I went back home. We talked for a whole afternoon and I learned from Gang that the government attached great importance to poverty alleviation,” said He, who had been persuaded by Gang to join the factory.
Then, He was sent to learn the technology behind manufacturing fine dried noodles. The factory bought a small noodle-making machine at first. After half a year, the products gained popularity.
Gang saw hope and decided to expand production. He applied for 300,000 yuan (about 42,870 U.S. dollars) from Tianjin University and brought in a set of new production equipment last October. After the resumption of production on March 16, the daily output of the factory reached 2,500 kg. As of the end of June, the factory had produced over 70,000 kg of fine dried noodles, with sales totaling 360,000 yuan, lifting 86 families or 349 villagers out of poverty.
Gang also sought ways to improve the production of noodles. “In the past, workers had to stop production to pack the noodles manually. With the wrapping machine that we bought recently, the production capacity will increase,” he said.
He even invited a professional team to design the packaging of noodles. Now, the factory has tied up with 375 local stores. Products have been sold online and offline.
On May 21, a total of 86 poverty-stricken households in the village shared a profit of 140,000 yuan. Shen Qifeng was among them. With a disabled husband and two kids of school age, Shen had to raise the family alone. “I got 2,000 yuan this time. I believe life will be better.”
Xu Tiantian, a local villager who worked at the noodle-making factory, was amazed by the speed of change. “With this factory, we can work at home. Our pockets are full thanks to the noodle-making business.”
The Chinese government has set the end of 2020 as its target for eradicating absolute poverty, known as one of the “three tough battles” that the country must win to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020.
Gulping down a bowl of soup, Gang said: “I sense a taste of happiness in the noodle soup. As long as the villagers live a good life, what I have done is worthy.