China: Yanxia Su

They say we should grow whatever the market demands, and whatever makes money. But this is hard to do – small farmers are very vulnerable and can hardly risk losing even a few thousand yuan.

— Yanxia Su

Su Yanxia was born in 1970 and started her career in farming and forestry from selling grape seedlings after she had failed her college entrance examination in China’s Northeastern Heilongjiang Province. In the past ten years she has saved and helped propagate many endangered tree species. Elected as a delegate to the National People's Congress, the highest legislative body, she has used her status as a people’s representative to draw government attention to agriculture and the problems of farmers, as well as to get more peasant representatives into decision-making positions.

Su Yanxia, a rural woman from China’s Northeastern Heilongjiang Province, founded the Heilongjiang Sumeng Forestry Development Co. Ltd. in 1994. Yanxia worked hard to develop her business. She taught herself through self-study and worked as an apprentice to 18 professionals. She has technical links with eight research groups and has undertaken 36 experimental projects. She has contributed to production and research aspects of ecological projects involving special species of vegetables, flowers, fruits, and high-quality crops. She was also responsible for an exemplary case of reforming low-yielding land, and made a breakthrough by breeding a tree species, the yew, that is under first-class state protection. Her company now holds over 33 million yuan of fixed assets and has extensive land. There are five specialized plots for crops, vegetables, orchids, flowers and water plants. There are 20 greenhouses for the breeding of over 1200 species of yew and dragon spruce seedlings. Over the past decade Yanxia has offered technical services to over 500 orchid farmers, received over 6000 visitors, and answered some 21,000 written enquiries. She has also sent out technical information and free seedlings worth about 150,000 yuan. In 1998 she was elected as a delegate to the ninth National People’s Congress, the highest-level legislative body. Since then she has been calling for equal citizen status for China’s farmers. She advocates the formation of professional associations and economic cooperation organizations, and enthusiastically promotes the journal, Farmer Cooperative Law.

Heilongjiang Sumeng Forestry Development Co. Ltd.