If you ask Chinese farmers whether they want their children to leave the village to go to the city or not, the answer will almost certainly be “yes”. This begs the question, “Why do farmers dislike the rural life?”
In mid-March, three farmers from PEAC’s project sites were invited along with PEAC staff as a team to take part in a workshop on Happy Farming in Tengchong County, where they were invited to share the happiness that agriculture brings to people. In total, there were 80 representatives attending the workshop, including members from seven minorities, all from different places around Yunnan Province. The representatives exchanged their farming experiences and interesting cultural anecdotes at the meeting. These activities brought back the farmers’ pleasant memories of farming. At the end of the workshop, although everyone was tired, most of them gave very positive feedback regarding their feelings toward it. Each representative shared their own happiest farming experience. All the participants were surprised to find that the rural life could hold so much happiness.
When the time came to present characteristic village foods, the PEAC team decided to demonstrate the preparation of Heier's colored sticky rice. At first, the farmers from Heier were a little annoyed at having to take tools and materials from their hometown, as it was very inconvenient to dye and cook the rice at the activity site. However, the whole process attracted many local people, and five kilograms of glutinous rice was eaten up in just a few minutes. The cooks were very happy and felt very proud of themselves. At that moment, the villagers found that one thing that made them especially happy is when aspects of their lives are valued by other people. In fact, most urban residents always find countryside living both interesting and comfortable. Despite the poverty, many things in the rural areas are regarded as precious. For example, the potherb that is used to feed pigs in the villages is sold at very high prices in the city.
Thankfully, every time the farmers attend this kind of exchange, their attitudes change greatly by the time they come back. On the last day in Tengchong, the villagers showed each other a lot of interesting things from the countryside like hand made toys, traditional food, etc. These things that they once thought of as old-fashioned are in fact very precious in the city. City people are more likely to be rich and have more opportunities to get information, but more importantly, they are also more than willing to buy village goods.