Edible canna and xiangxiang pigs
”Circular farming and strategically dividing agricultural by elevation enabled Leibo’s farmers to use their land in a more efficient manner and protect the environment by decreasing waste.”
Residents of Leibo county have long suffered from a shortage of arable land. Other problems include high transportation costs stemming from the county’s geography and an inability to use modern agricultural equipment on the county’s mountainous land. Until recently, the poverty rate was over 32 per cent. The county used strategic, circular farming to raise incomes and protect the environment
Based on elevation in order to better harness the mountainous land.
A circular farming system
That involves synchronicity between pigs and edible canna.
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This solution can offer:
- Information about dividing agricultural endeavors by elevation in order to better harness mountainous land;
- Ideas about implementing circular farming in order to decrease waste, protect the environment, improve efficiency and increase value; and
- Other information about how to develop this type of undertaking.
2017 - present
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Leibo county is located in a mountainous region in southern China where traditional mass agriculture difficult. The county developed a poverty reduction plan that involves strategic, circular farming of edible canna, pigs and other plants and animals. The initiative helped protect the environment and enabled residents living in poverty to increase their incomes by an average of 7,000 yuan (US$980) per year. Some received additional dividends, and the projects’ improved efficiency made it possible for them to engage in other work as well.
Leibo county is part of southeast China’s Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, which is home to the Yi ethnic minority group and has a population of about 237,500 people. Eighty-four per cent of the county is mountainous, and its elevation ranges from 380 to 4,076 metres. Leibo’s residents have long suffered from a shortage of arable land. Other problems include high transportation costs stemming from the county’s geography and an inability to use modern agricultural equipment designed for open farmland, which the county lacks. Until recently, about 76,000 of Leibo’s residents were living in poverty; the poverty rate was over 32 per cent. The county needed to make better use of its geography, develop its economy and improve its logistics in order to reduce poverty and protect the environment. It was also in need of better branding and marketing efforts.
Instead of using conventional farming methods meant for open land, Leibo implemented a model that involves circular farming and divides products by elevation in order to take advantage of the surrounding mountains. Tropical fruits are grown in areas that have elevations under 1,000 metres; edible canna, potatoes, corn, walnuts, Chinese prickly ash, green peppers, tea, bamboo roots, konjac, chickens and pigs are farmed on land that has an altitude of 1,000 to 2,000 metres; and cows and goats are raised and certain types of vegetables are grown in areas that have elevations greater than 2,000 metres.
Edible canna is a high-yield plant that is easy to grow because it does not require a lot of fertilizer or chemicals. It features large amounts of starch and can be used as feed for pigs. Pigs that are fed edible canna are known as "xiangxiang pigs" and are very popular for their special flavour. Farmers began feeding the plant to their pigs and using processed pig manure as fertilizer for edible canna and other crops. The circular system improves efficiency, increases the value of the pigs that are raised, decreases waste and benefits the environment. Pigs are raised in conjunction with cooperatives, which invest more than half of initial start-up costs. Individual farmers are also encouraged to purchase necessary equipment using funds from the government.
As the program has grown, the government has provided training, marketing and other services. It developed a xiangxiang pig brand and created a logistics chain that helped address local transportation problems. In addition, the Leibo government established a financial incentive for larger farms to help smaller farms meet production goals.
This solution is intended for mountainous regions that want to use their land more efficiently in order to help farmers increase their incomes and protect the environment.
- Circular farming and strategically dividing agricultural by elevation enabled Leibo’s farmers to use their land more efficiently and protect the environment by decreasing waste.
- Impoverished households increased their incomes by an average of 7,000 yuan (US$980) per year as a result of the farming projects and policies.
- Collectives manage the seven current production bases in Leibo’s impoverished villages. They paid a total of 100,000 yuan (US$14,020) of dividends in 2017.
- People gained the ability to work outside their local areas. Because edible canna and pig farming are not demanding undertakings, many farmers could also work outside of their villages. Households that had members who worked outside the village increased their incomes by an average of 12,000 yuan (US$1,680).
- Families who do not raise pigs were able to exchange certain crops for meat for their own use.
- Processing facilities were installed that extend the industrial chain and increase the added value of the edible canna by making the plants’ starch into other products in a standardized manner. This has made it possible for every production base to bring in about 360,000 yuan (US$50,472) of additional income.
Lessons Learned/Potential for Replication
1. It is a good idea to fully harness the advantages of different geographical areas. Leibo does not have as much open farmland as some other places do, but it does have various elevations and weather conditions. Careful planning that factored in various altitudes made it possible for the area to harness its characteristics and turn liabilities into advantages.
2. It helps to follow market trends. Xiangxiang pigs sell well, which encourages Leibo's residents to farm them. Demand for pork is increasing in China; therefore, pig farming is a good industry to pursue.
3. Poverty reduction projects can also protect the environment. Traditional forms of agriculture inevitably create waste. Leibo’s circular farming system involves using edible canna to feed pigs and using processed manure as fertilizer for various crops, which helps to minimize waste.
Leibo plans to introduce more policies that motivate people to engage in pig farming and will also provide comprehensive services, such as seed distribution, in order to reduce farmers’ burdens. Twenty standardized crop and pig farming bases are planned in the county in order to better integrate cooperatives and their members. It is predicted that by the end of 2020, edible canna will be grown on 6,667 hectares of land and xiangxiang pigs will be raised on more than 3,333 hectares of land in Leibo.
Last update: 27/01/2021