Career opportunities in China's agriculture sector are diversifying as small plots previously managed by peasants are being amalgamated into larger business ventures. Andrew Wong / Reuters
Career opportunities in China's agriculture sector are diversifying as small plots previously managed by peasants are being amalgamated into larger business ventures. Andrew Wong / Reuters

Interest in farming grows in China



Mountains sit to one side and neat rows of trees stretch in all directions in this tranquil part of Beijing Municipality a couple of hours' drive north of the city itself.

Yu Lin Tang Quan Orchards, a farm producing cherries, strawberries, apples, pears and dates, may not be quite the rural idyll, as even here there is a haze of smog, but the setting nonetheless offers a break from the capital's traffic and faceless tower blocks.

No wonder two young Chinese entrepreneurs have chosen this farm to begin what they hope will be long and productive careers in agriculture.

Feng Te and Li Ce, both 22 and from just outside the city of Shijiazhuang south of Beijing, believe farming and its related industries offer better prospects than the urban rat-race.

"The good thing about working on a farm is that the environment is good. It's outdoors, it's free. It teaches you useful skills," says Mr Feng, who joined the farm several months ago. "The pay starts low but as we learn more skills and knowledge, I believe the farm will raise our salaries."

At the moment, Mr Feng and Mr Li cultivate strawberries in the farm's dozens of greenhouses. They also learn techniques such as how to prune Chinese date trees to maximise fruit production.

"I'm from a peasant family and I like working outdoors. I enjoy the fresh air," says Mr Li, who along with his fellow trainee is studying at Beijing University of Agriculture as well as working at the farm. Monthly salaries at the farm begin at about 2,000 yuan (Dh1,164).

Nationally, the number of people working in agriculture continues to fall rapidly, as 13 million people move to the cities annually.

In 1990, 55 per cent of China's workforce was employed in agriculture. Two decades later the figure was 33 per cent and by 2020, just a quarter of employment will be in farming.

During 2007 alone, the agricultural workforce shrunk by 11.2 million, while there was an increase of 17.1 million in the tally of non-farm employees.

The trend will continue, with China's approximate total of 300 million working in agriculture still more than 100 times that of Japan, which has a population about one tenth the size of China's.

Yet although China's manufacturing, service and other sectors have grown, the country's agricultural output is still bigger than that of any other country.

With eight per cent of the world's arable land, China feeds nearly a fifth of the world's population, and agricultural exports have grown 13.2 per cent over the past decade.

For the key staples of rice, wheat and corn, China is more than 98 per cent self-sufficient. Total production of these rose from 220 million tonnes in 1975 to 480 million tonnes in 2010.

Career opportunities are diversifying as small plots previously managed by peasants are amalgamated.

"China's agriculture has developed into agribusiness," says Wang Yuzhu, Yu Lin Tang Quan Orchards' deputy general manager.

"It's no longer just smallhold farms where you take enough to support yourself. It's big companies operating these farms. It offers career prospects to young students. That's why they're coming here."

Set up in 2005 on land previously farmed by peasants, the farm has a restaurant, guest house, fishing pond and other leisure-related businesses to attract Beijingers keen for a weekend in the countryside. Visitors pick their own produce.

The farm has technological collaborations for strawberry production with several organisations and research centres based in Spain.

These more sophisticated farms attract ambitious youngsters who realise agriculture offers more than hours of repetitive, back-breaking labour. Agricultural research also offers opportunities.

"The government still considers agriculture as a basis for this country's development ... so they are enhancing research and development in agricultural technology," says Zhao Longhua, 24, who is studying for a master's degree in soil science at China Agricultural University in Beijing.

Ms Zhao, who comes from Gansu province in central China, grew up in a city, although many others entering the sector have rural backgrounds. Chen Xiaochao, 24, also a postgraduate at China Agricultural University, is the daughter of farmers in Anhui province in eastern China.

"I am from a rural area and back in my home village the productivity of farmers is very low. That's why I chose to study agriculture, to help these people out," says Ms Chen, who is specialising in plant nutrition.

"These smallholdings are being combined into big farms, where big business will take over and change them into farming factories. That requires technology and expertise. That's why I think I will have better prospects."

Yet, for all the transformation sweeping China's agricultural sector, prejudices remain. In many communities, farming is still seen as an impoverished existence to escape from.

"A lot of children from the rural areas, they've been taught they have to leave the fields to make a better living, so they won't choose agriculture," says Yang Miyi, 23, from central China's Shaanxi province.

Indeed, the fourth-year undergraduate at China Agricultural University says most people view agriculture as a "cold subject" with few opportunities. There is "this bias against agriculture".

"We think people working in the fields are beneath wage earners. But I don't have this bias, so I think agriculture is important and I can make a difference," she says.

To ensure they retain staff, farms have to take account of the young people's growing expectations. The staff dormitories at Yu Lin Tang Quan have wireless internet access and television and Mr Wang says efforts are made to ensure motivation among young workers remains high.

"They don't like to do the farmwork all the time. They get bored. They always ask: 'Why am I doing this?' It can be very mechanical, which is not interesting," he says.

"You have to manage them well. When they get bored you change their duties, ask them to do something else. We try our best to interest them, not let them get bored. It does work."

Boulder shooting victims

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• Rikki Olds, 25
• Tralona Bartkowiak, 49
• Suzanne Fountain, 59
• Teri Leiker, 51
• Eric Talley, 51
• Kevin Mahoney, 61
• Lynn Murray, 62
• Jody Waters, 65

RESULTS

5pm Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 1,600m

Winner Thabet Al Reef, Bernardo Pinheiro (jockey), Abdallah Al Hammadi (trainer)

5.30pm Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m

Winner Blue Diamond, Pat Cosgrave, Abdallah Al Hammadi

6pm Arabian Triple Crown Round-1 Listed (PA) Dh230,000 (T) 1,600m

Winner Hameem, Adrie de Vries, Abdallah Al Hammadi

6.30pm Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,400m

Winner Shoja’A Muscat, Szczepan Mazur, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami

7pm Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,200m

Winner Heros De Lagarde, Szczepan Mazur, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami

7.30pm Handicap (TB) Dh100,000 (T) 2,400m

Winner Good Tidings, Antonio Fresu, Musabah Al Muhairi

FIGHT CARD

Lightweight 10 rounds:
Bader Samreen (8-0-0) v Jose Paez Gonzales (16-2-2)

Super flyweight 10 rounds:
Sultan Al Nuaimi (9-0-0) v Jemsi Kibazange (18-6-2)

Cruiseweight 8 rounds:
Mohammed Bekdash (25-0-0) v Musa N’tege (8-4-0)

Super featherweight 8 rounds:
Bishara Sabbar (6-0-0) v Mohammed Azahar (8-5-1)

Welterweight 6 rounds:
Marwan Mohamad Madboly (2-0-0) v Sheldon Schultz (4-4-0)

Heavyweight 4 rounds:
Youssef Karrar (1-0-0) v Muhammad Muzeei (0-0-0)

Welterweight 6 rounds:
Benyamin Moradzadeh (0-0-0) v Rohit Chaudhary (4-0-2)

Featherweight 4 rounds:
Yousuf Ali (2-0-0) (win-loss-draw) v Alex Semugenyi (0-1-0)

Match info

Liverpool 3
Hoedt (10' og), Matip (21'), Salah (45+3')

Southampton 0

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Results

5pm: Warsan Lake – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 2,200m; Winner: Dhaw Al Reef, Sam Hitchcott (jockey), Abdallah Al Hammadi (trainer)

5.30pm: Al Quadra Lake – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m; Winner: Mrouwah Al Gharbia, Sando Paiva, Abubakar Daud

6pm: Hatta Lake – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m; Winner: AF Yatroq, George Buckell, Ernst Oertel

6.30pm: Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,600m; Winner: Ashton Tourettes, Adries de Vries, Ibrahim Aseel

7pm: Abu Dhabi Championship – Listed (PA) Dh180,000 (T) 1,600m; Winner: Bahar Muscat, Antonio Fresu, Ibrahim Al Hadhrami

7.30pm: Zakher Lake – Rated Conditions (TB) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m; Winner: Alfareeq, Dane O’Neill, Musabah Al Muhairi.

MATCH INFO

AC Milan v Inter, Sunday, 6pm (UAE), match live on BeIN Sports

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

Essentials

The flights

Etihad (etihad.ae) and flydubai (flydubai.com) fly direct to Baku three times a week from Dh1,250 return, including taxes. 
 

The stay

A seven-night “Fundamental Detox” programme at the Chenot Palace (chenotpalace.com/en) costs from €3,000 (Dh13,197) per person, including taxes, accommodation, 3 medical consultations, 2 nutritional consultations, a detox diet, a body composition analysis, a bio-energetic check-up, four Chenot bio-energetic treatments, six Chenot energetic massages, six hydro-aromatherapy treatments, six phyto-mud treatments, six hydro-jet treatments and access to the gym, indoor pool, sauna and steam room. Additional tests and treatments cost extra.

No more lice

Defining head lice

Pediculus humanus capitis are tiny wingless insects that feed on blood from the human scalp. The adult head louse is up to 3mm long, has six legs, and is tan to greyish-white in colour. The female lives up to four weeks and, once mature, can lay up to 10 eggs per day. These tiny nits firmly attach to the base of the hair shaft, get incubated by body heat and hatch in eight days or so.

Identifying lice

Lice can be identified by itching or a tickling sensation of something moving within the hair. One can confirm that a person has lice by looking closely through the hair and scalp for nits, nymphs or lice. Head lice are most frequently located behind the ears and near the neckline.

Treating lice at home

Head lice must be treated as soon as they are spotted. Start by checking everyone in the family for them, then follow these steps. Remove and wash all clothing and bedding with hot water. Apply medicine according to the label instructions. If some live lice are still found eight to 12 hours after treatment, but are moving more slowly than before, do not re-treat. Comb dead and remaining live lice out of the hair using a fine-toothed comb.
After the initial treatment, check for, comb and remove nits and lice from hair every two to three days. Soak combs and brushes in hot water for 10 minutes.Vacuum the floor and furniture, particularly where the infested person sat or lay.

Courtesy Dr Vishal Rajmal Mehta, specialist paediatrics, RAK Hospital

SPECS: Polestar 3

Engine: Long-range dual motor with 400V battery
Power: 360kW / 483bhp
Torque: 840Nm
Transmission: Single-speed automatic
Max touring range: 628km
0-100km/h: 4.7sec
Top speed: 210kph
Price: From Dh360,000
On sale: September

Sui Dhaaga: Made in India

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Starring: Varun Dhawan, Anushka Sharma, Raghubir Yadav

3.5/5

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This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home. 

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Based: Dubai, UAE

Founded: 2014

Number of employees: 36

Sector: Logistics

Raised: $2.5 million

Investors: DP World, Prime Venture Partners and family offices in Saudi Arabia and the UAE

Playing records of the top 10 in 2017

How many games the top 10 have undertaken in the 2017 ATP season

1. Rafael Nadal 58 (49-9)

2. Andy Murray 35 (25-10)

3. Roger Federer 38 (35-3)

4. Stan Wawrinka 37 (26-11)

5. Novak Djokovic 40 (32-8)

6. Alexander Zverev 60 (46-14)

7. Marin Cilic 43 (29-14)

8. Dominic Thiem 60 (41-19)

9. Grigor Dimitrov 48 (34-14)

10. Kei Nishikori 43 (30-13)

PRISCILLA

Director: Sofia Coppola

Starring: Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi

Rating: 3/5

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Name: Kinetic 7
Started: 2018
Founder: Rick Parish
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Funding: $10 million
Investors: Self-funded

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

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Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5