Introducing Sustainable Agricultural Techniques to Communities
Planting Medicianl Plant Under Rubber in Qingsong, Bawanling, Hainan
Wen Yong checking on the yizhi he plants under the rubber
The expansion of rubber farms is a major threat to China's tropical forests, such as the Bawangling National Nature Reserve in Hainan. Introducing sustainable practices is one of the approaches to curtail expansion of rubber farming. It ensures the benefits from existing rubber plantations are maximised without causing negative consequences to people or nature.
In Qingsong community on the east side of Bawangling, we are promoting the planting of the medicinal plant yizhi (Alpinia oxyphylla), Dumpling Leaves (Phrynium rheedie) and sharen (Amomum sp.), as understorey crops in their existing rubber plantation. These understorey crops are well adapted to shade, and are good cash crops.
Aside from diversifying income, the intercropping method has been proven to enhance efficiency in the use of land and labour as well as to prevent soil erosion. But won't these understorey crops take important nutrients from the rubber? The villagers were worried about this. The result showed that understorey vegetation could prevent soil runoff, preserve moisture, increase organic matter in the soil and diversify the nutrient demands in the soil, for an overall net benefit. Crops under rubber will also deter the use of herbicides. This is a good beginning. Let us wait to see the benefits of this agroforestry system.
Native Pig Production Programme in Qingsong, Bawanling, Hainan
Whilst KFBG generally promote eating less meat, we do help rural villagers to enhance their livelihoods through improved livestock production.
Qingsong is the village nearest to the famous Hainan gibbon of Bawangling National Nature Reserve. Villagers there rear the native Wujiao Pig (five feet pig), well-known for its good taste. However its growth rate has been extremely slow due to poor nutrition. Meanwhile, the village produces a lot of cassava that is sold at an extremely low price (RMB1/kg, dry). How about feeding the cassava to the pigs, which are marketed at higher price (RMB 36/kg live weight) so as to add value?
We improved the protein content of the cassava-based feed by mixing tree-leaf meal of the native goushu (Broussonetia papyrifera, Paper Mulberry) with a feed concentrate. The results were very encouraging. The pigs grew faster and had leaner meat, with a feed conversion ratio of 4 feed to 1 meat. The goushu tree can also be planted on eroded hillsides, as part of a pig-feed garden and to reduce erosion. Protecting animal well-being during production is also one of our concerns. Deep-litter pens with play yards have been introduced so that the pigs can live in social groups and express their natural behaviours. This will be part of the production standards being set up to build the Naturally-raised Wujiao Pig brand.