TAIYUAN, June 22 (Xinhua) -- Li Suoju has found a new way of farming to take care of her small patch of wheat in Huishi Village of Yicheng County, north China's Shanxi Province, without disrupting her work at a restaurant in a nearby town.
Thanks to the thriving internet-based gig economy, young-generation farmers who own small pieces of arable land now can decide whether to follow in the footsteps of their forebears during the busy plowing season.
Growing one mu (one hectare is equal to 15 mu) of wheat usually helps Li earn no more than 400 yuan (about 56 U.S. dollars) but keeps her busy for nearly half a year.
Now using a hailing app on her smartphone, Li, 35, paid 140 yuan to have a nearby farm machinery operator spray chemicals and weed the 4-mu field.
Her husband Li Changjun works as a labor contractor in neighboring Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. Like many of rural people, they want to weave themselves into the fabric of urban life, without letting land lie waste.
Called "farmland nanny" by farmers, this kind of "gig farming" service is usually provided by more skilled farmers from agricultural cooperatives who own farming equipment. The service covers the whole process from seed supply, plowing, sowing, fertilizing, harvesting to product sales.
"This makes me carefree when I work in a faraway place," said villager Shi Xuehui, who found a job in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, having no time to take care of her 2.8-mu wheat field in Huishi.
She had thought about going back but soon dropped the idea since what she would make from the harvest would not cover her travel expenses and lost wages.
Zhang Tianzhu, head of the county bureau of agriculture and rural affairs, said unlike transferring their land to larger planters or cooperatives, which is also popular in China for more efficient use of farmland, it is still the farmers' own decision what crops they will grow on their land under the "gig farming" model.
A total of 13,000 farmers from 21 villages in Yicheng County used the labor hailing service to have their 80,000 mu of land cultivated last year, accounting for 14 percent of the county's total.
Meanwhile, to better safeguard farmers' income, an insurance policy has been introduced, which guarantees the farmers a 400-yuan-per-mu gain against crop failure caused by natural disasters or poor management. Each individual only has to pay eight yuan for an 80-yuan premium per mu of land, with the rest funded by the government.
This year, Yicheng will continue to put more land into "gig farming," easing the worries of migrant farmers, according to the county government. Enditem