Shandong Postcard: Big Changes Sweep Rural China

Reuters reports on how the urbanization of China is transforming life for those left behind to till the land:

The virtual absence of any under 40 speaks to China’s . Youngsters decamp as soon as they can to work in towns near and far, leaving their aging parents to till the .

With the rural labor pool shrinking, are rising.

A cheery woman about 50 tending a potato field said she earns 40 ($6.15) a day. It’s not a king’s ransom, but it’s nearly twice as much as she was getting three years ago. At the side of the field stands her electric bike, a must-have for those with money to spare for the first .

That she is laboring on someone else’s points up another phenomenon sweeping China: many households are leasing out their smallholdings, resulting in bigger, more productive farms.

Li Tiejun said a peasant could earn as much in a month at a factory — about 2,000 yuan — as he could in a year harvesting 2 mu of grain.

“There’ll be more and more big farms because all the young people are leaving and no one wants to farm any more,” said Li, who works 60 mu of land — about 4 hectares or 10 acres.

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