n February 2011, as part of the 18th Global Young Leaders Programme (YLP) a team of 21 international executives spent 9 days in Jianshi county, Hubei province, working to provide the county government with strategic recommendations for the five-year development plan of an integrated farmers association. Coming from Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Ghana and Colombia the group worked in partnership with the Consulting Centre for Farmers’ Associations (CCFA) and the Integrated Farmers’ Association of Heshuiping Region (IFAH). The latter association was established under the Integrated Rural Development and Governance Pilot Programme Office of the county government.
After three decades of unprecedented economic expansion, this next phase of China’s development is as much a concern for the rest of the world as it is for the country itself. The challenge for China is to promote sustained economic development among its rural population and accelerate the reduction of poverty to incentivise productive workers to remain or return to a newly vibrant countryside.
The business model articulated by the group and the associated rural governance principles contain elements that can be applied in other parts of China. The hope is that the pilot programme in Heshuiping, which was written initially to cover the production of fragrant rice and pig rearing, will be able to guide farmers into other areas of agricultural production, but more importantly give them the confidence to leverage the rich diversity of resources in the Jianshi area.