Wu Guiqin is a farmer and community leader in the Lu Zhuang village in China. She has been growing corn on four hectares of land for twenty years.
I am proud of my job because it helps improve our lives through hard work.I belong to this piece of land, and I strongly believe that everyone in my community that farms this land can become better off by working hard and farming wisely. By introducing new technologies and collaborating with my peers and the villagers, I can feel this happening more and more every year.
I love my land, I have lived here my whole life. I am 64 years old, but I plan to keep on farming the best I can.
How did you get here?
I became a female community leader in 1990 when our village was struck by poverty from low corn output. I decided to teach my fellow farmers to be savvy in their farming so they could increase their income. In the past, the corn would easily rot away before the harvest. So I used to run to the stores to choose the best agricultural materials at the best price, and I figured out a suitable formula for our village after years of trial and error. The villagers would always visit my corn field to learn, and then use my practices in their own fields.
What is your advice for young women wanting to contribute to sustainable food and farming?
For women in rural areas, farming is never an easy job to do as it is very demanding, physically and mentally. You need to cope with a lot of challenges and uncertainties like climate, finance, price volatility etc. Nowadays, things are changing. The new generation of women farmers tend to be better educated; they are tech savvy, they can find ways to access the market, and they can skilfully handle the changing environment. They are lucky to have the opportunity for growth that my generation never had. My advice is that they should stay focused on the land, think big, and stay humble when dealing with their land.
How does agriculture need to change to be fit for the future?
We can tap into the power of technology to transform the way we farm, I hope farmers can get a better understanding of their yields, and reduce their uncertainty. Chinese people always say, “farmers make a living at the mercy of climate,” but that no longer has to be the case. We need to transform the way we farm, and we can definitely expect more from our farm land.
What’s one challenge you face as a woman in agriculture and what do you think needs to be done to overcome this?
In a rural female cadre, it has been hard to gain the community’s trust and it seems that some women tend to ignore my advice, but I’ve spent years trying to change that. I think full dedication and a vision were my key motivators. Ideally, the community should be more open, and respect hard-working women farmers like me.
Wu is just one of many inspirational women working in agriculture. Visit our Female #FoodHeroes page to hear from other women working to improve plant science and nutrition.