Tribute sheep help villagers shake off poverty

Wang Haoling
In Dongxiang County, Gansu Province, tribute sheep have helped impoverished families lift themselves out of poverty by expanding distribution channels.
Wang Haoling

In Dongxiang County, Gansu Province, lives a special breed of sheep — Dongxiang tribute sheep — that's delicious and fatty but not greasy. Due to Dongxiang’s remote position, they've rarely been sold outside of the county until recently.

“Our sheep eat corn and natural grass," said Ma Zhonghua, a father of six. "They grow slowly, but their meet tastes delicious."

The 62 year old’s family relies on raising sheep to make a living, and prior to 2013 was impoverished.

With the development of sheep raising, Ma not only shook off poverty, but also hired villagers from poor families nearby to help him herd the sheep.

“Because of unstable sales, I couldn't previously take on extra help,” he said.

Most sheep could only be sold in town or nearby until Country Garden came to help in 2018. The team provided online and offline distribution networks to sell the sheep, leading to sales of 30,000 sheep that brought in more than 40 million yuan, benefiting 6,000  locals living in poverty.

“Now I have stable orders," Ma said. "I plan to expand sales and add cold storage to my service.”

Ma said he would raise 1500 sheep next year, 500 more than in 2020.

“Previously, their sales market was mainly in Gansu Province and northwest China," said a team member from Country Garden. "We helped bring the delicacy to tables in southern coastal areas."

Last month, Dongxiang Autonomous County achieved the feat of removing its name from the country’s poverty list.

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