Caofeidian’s Recovery of Wetland Resources: The Survival of the Common People Should be Included in the Overall Arrangement and Innovative System Design | CBCGDF Research Department Field Investigation (I)

Earlier this year, in Caofeidian Wetland and Bird Provincial Conservation, an illegal renting issue in its core area was exposed by CBCGDF. Whereafter, the proposition of recycling all of the wetlands in the core area was put on the agenda again.  However, in our opinion, overall arrangement and systematic design should be added into the discussion of thousands of inhabitants’ survival since we have experienced great failure in 2013.


Caofeidian Wetland and birds Provincial Conservation, set up in 2005, was built on the base of a farm in Baigezhuang, Tanghai County. As conservation covering over 70K acres, 52K acres of it belongs to7th farm in Baigezhuang. The rest belongs to the 11th and 4th.


(Photo credit: CBCGDF volunteers)


As we can see, when faced with the overall de-farming and wetland conservation, workers in 7th farm beef the most frequently.


So, what happened to that land in the last 20 years or more?


“Days in 1992-1998 were the happiest for farmworkers.”


Aged at 69, Zheng Guochen, a worker in the 5th production team, began his 50 years work in Caofeidian since 19.


At that time, the Baigezhuang farm had just completed the large-scale-reclamation in army pattern. And gradually, this new wetland started to take shape. To this wetland developed in Caofeidian, this old man always has a special attachment.


This forthright old man, who had witnessed a series of changes in Caofeidian since 1970, firmly said that ” Days in 1992-1998 were the happiest for farm workers”.


Although the family-contract responsibility system was started in 1978, Tanghai County (a former name of Caofeidian District) started the system 6 years later.


(Photo credit: CBCGDF volunteers)


As the leader of the 7th farm did not accept the new responsibility system at that time, they did not start it until 1992. However, the wetland was mostly contracted in collective form and failed to be distributed into each family.


Undoubtedly, during the period of 1992-1998, the land of the 7th farm was the most abundant compared to other parts of time. Just 3 people can contract great tracts of land. At one time, I was so satisfied that running the wetland and cultivating reeds which covers 450-500 acres can earn 20-30K yuan per year on average. This old man remembers it very well. Every part of the wetland was 1500 meters in length and 200 meters in width. And 70%-80% of every part was covered with reed field. And the rice field only occupied a small proportion.


Since 1998, China has begun to implement a pension system. As a state-operated farm, Baigezhuang Farm paid insurance expenses for its workers with the same treatment as workers in state-owned enterprises. According to the policy at that time, every month, 7th farm workers should pay 2% of pension expenses which increased by years while the farm should pay 20% for them. For farmworkers, the wetland means everything. To cover the pension program, the farm stipulated that among 25-acre wetland for each worker, 1.5 acre was for personal food supply, 5 acres was for responsibility and the rest was for extra benefit. As we can see, the first two parts were for basic living and pension programs.


In 1998, the Yangtze River flooded. This even affected Caofeidian Wetland which was thousands of miles away. ” The principals of Hebei Province was quite concerned that huge precipitation may cause an unexpected flood. To avoid this, they decided to drain all the water stored in Luan River, which made a horrible drought in Caofeidian for three years, said this old man. This drought rendered workers in 7th farm unprofitable until 2001. And this is the most difficult time for the locals. From then on, the locals stopped planting rice on a large scale and tried to develop aquaculture including raising shrimps and fish.


(Photo credit: CBCGDF volunteers)


For civilians, things got even more complicated in an era with ceaseless land acquisition.


In the winter of 2002, the movement on land acquisition arising in Caofeidian Wetland had left a deep impression on many senior workers. It is a critical milestone for the termination of agricultural age in Caofeidian Wetland.


A number of farmworkers became aware of this huge change three years later. Yearly payment regulation from the national pension program had to render countless unemployment since many people faced difficulties in their business operation and couldn’t afford it.


“Though my parents are farmworkers, I am a farmer without rural household registration. So, the farm is no longer responsible for personal job-assignment for me,” said Liu Qing (not a real name), a native in Caofeidian.


“We’ve witnessed several projects carried out on the wetland, Duoma Music Park, golf course and other companies. The appearance of the wetland changed but nothing had happened in our life, let alone the compensation we deserved. Said Liu Qing. Besides that, Caofeidian was evaluated as a Wetland and Bird Provincial Conservation in 2005, while extensive cultivation and aquaculture in 7th, 11th, 4th farms, was still ongoing at someplace belongs to the core area of conservation.


Original Chinese article:

By / Jin Zhihao Modified / Maggie




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