NZCFS supported a project to provide training in sunflower production as a way to increase poor rural people’s income in Shanglin County, Guangxi.
Sunflowers are grown in the winter between rice crops. The seed is sold for either eating or oil production, and the stalk is used as organic fertilizer, or as feed for water buffalo or in fish farming.
Before the project started the Shanglin Women’s Federation (SWF) had discussions in several villages where sunflowers are already growing to ask what were the problems and how best to help. A programme of training was planned to improve management skills based on the farmers’ needs. In total 1750 women received training in different aspects of sunflower management and marketing, as well as in mulberry and silkworm raising, pig husbandry, winter vegetables, and sugar cane production. This took place in the first half of 2007.
In Bugu village all the women were able to increase their production from 400 to 450 jin per mu, (approx 3200-3600 kg/ha), their oil production by 30 jin per mu and their income by 25%. In addition sunflowers are promoted as an ecological tourism venture and this flower season 4000 people visited the project to view the fields spending more than 6000 yuan (NZ$1200). An entrance fee went to the Bugu Village Association and local people opened farm restaurants and sold oil.
The SWF report states, ‘We used the women’s festival to organize women’s committees at County level and in the Agriculture Bureau and Science & Technology and Animal Husbandry Departments to make eighteen display boards. These focussed on the sunflower training project showing rural women’s good work and used the sunflower as background picture, so were attractive to look at. A lot of women came to have a look and after reading those boards, they knew in their hearts with a strong understanding that they will always lead others with these new ideas, new knowledge and new technology’.
This project was supported with a 4:1 subsidy from NZAID.