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Zip lines assume new role in Nujiang's poverty relief
Yunnan Gateway 2020-08-04 16:07:04

For folks in Nujiang River valley, northwest of the Chinese province Yunnan, zip lines exert vivid memories on their mind.

Villagers slide via a zip line

The Nujiang valley features precipitous peaks and rushing waters, making it hard to operate a ferry or build a bridge.

The Nujiang river

Extending 100 plus meters, zip lines are usually set tens of meters above the Nujiang river. The zip line had long been the only way for folks in Majimi to cross the river. Majimi is a village in Fugong County, northwest Yunnan’s Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture. 

Whenever villagers wanted to cross the river, they had to tie themselves to a zip line and slide to the other side from a higher spot.

A villager doctors slide via a zip line

The slide, though only lasting tens of seconds, is always breathtaking for any accidental fall into the waters or knock onto the cliffs will cost the life of folks, who lacked in protective means. 

"In grades one to four, my parent took me to the primary school via a zipline. When the rainy season came, the Nujiang river would swell with roaring waters,” recalled Pu Youbo, a local villager. “Hanging on the line, we crossed the river with great care and nervousness, mom holding me tightly in her arms..."

The Qiaoma bridge over Nujiang

To make travel easier for locals, the Nujiang prefecture replaced zip lines with bridges.

In December, 2018, the Qiaoma Bridge was erected over Nujiang, linking up the village parts east and west. 

The bridge facilitated trips by villagers, breaking the “bottleneck” that long restricted industrial growth.

Folks walk across the Qiaoma bridge 

Having said good-bye to the traveling lines, the villagers welcome the industrial zip line for planting Amomum tsao-ko. 

Tsao-ko zip lines 

Amomum tsao-ko is a Chinese flavoring herb with medicinal value. In the Qiaomaga village, over 5,000 mu (around 333.3 hectares) of land are used for tsao-ko planting.

Amomum tsao-ko

However, tsao-ko planting also brought folks new difficulty. 

Villager Yu Fasheng runs a 170mu tsao-ko plantation, which lies around 15km away from his home. During the harvest, Yu had to ask others to help carry the herb home from mountains.

Folks carry tsao-ko during harvest

"At present, my fresh tsao-ko output adds up to around 140 bags, each weighing 45 kg. And it costs me 70 yuan to carry home a single bag," said Yu, calculating. 

To cut cost in harvest, locals turned to the zip line for a new use. 

Villagers build the tsao-ko zip line

On June 16-17, 2020, the 1st industrial zip line was set up near the Qiaoma bridge. “Yunnan Daily Press Group built the first tsao-ko zipline for the village in two days, with another 6 to be finished within the year,” said Pu Youbo, a local villager. 

It surprised Yu Fasheng even more. "With this tsaoko zip line, I can cut the transporting cost of each bag by 30 yuan, saving me 4,000 yuan a year."

Villagers process tsao-ko

When all seven zip lines are put into use, they will benefit 26 households in Qiaomaga Village, increasing their income by 200,000 yuan a year. 

Folks join hands in building the Majimi plant for tsao-ko drying

“This year, we will build up 45,000-meter zip lines that cover 10,000 mu (666.6 hectares) of tsao-ko planting areas in Majimi Village,” said He Xiaofan, head of the zipline project with Yunnan Daily Press Group.

In China's poverty-alleviation drive, each poor village is paired with an enterprise that is dedicated to help. To do a good job, the assisting entity sets up a special work team, with members sent to the villages. Majimi is paired with Yunnan Daily.


Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture is located in the west of Yunnan Province, China. For thousands of years, Nujiang ethnic minorities have lived in high mountains and deep valleys, and the poor traffic condition restricted local economy, folks inflicted by extreme poverty. 

China’s poverty line is defined as an annual per capita income of 4,000 yuan in 2020. The basic requirements for poverty alleviation are assuring the rural poor population that they have enough to eat and to wear and guaranteeing them access to compulsory education, basic medical services, and safe housing. 

In June 2020, the requirements were met among all the poor in Nujiang prefecture.

By Gateway reporters 

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