HEFEI, June 22 (Xinhua) -- Liu Shengxian, a farmer in east China's Anhui Province, did not expect that transplanting paddy - his traditional farm work - would become an object of interest for visitors from cities.
His hamlet with the ancient name "Daoyuan" in Yunfeng Village of Anqing City held a rice planting festival, which drew tourists from afar to experience work in the fields.
The visitors were excited to take pictures of Liu and his buffalo working in the paddy fields. Liu's old home fashioned out of rammed earth and the bamboo forests behind it amazed the tourists no less.
"They're willing to spend money on experiencing country life. The world has really changed," the 73-year-old said with surprise.
The ancient village, tucked away in the boundless Dabie Mountains, was once connected to the world only by a dirt track some two meters wide. Villagers lived in ancient rammed-earth dwellings and could only manage to feed themselves from the crop grown on a small plot of land in the mountains.
In 2014, half of the 14 families in the village, including Liu's, were identified as poor households.
At the time, Liu said, he just hoped the dirt road could be repaired and he could borrow some money to tear down the old house to build a new one.
However, unexpected changes in the village, which is under the jurisdiction of Huangwei Town, in recent years have disrupted his plans.
Based on its ancient bucolic sights, the village began to develop a tourism model to help local households get rid of poverty.
"My first impression of the village was that it was poor but unique," said Shu Hanbing, former Party chief of Huangwei Town, who was in charge of the protection and development of the ancient hamlet.
In 2016, it was included in the list of traditional villages in China. Instead of being demolished, the old houses were preserved for their idyllic charm.
"The ancient village and dwellings should be preserved, but the poverty should be cast off," said Shu. "While protecting the village, we developed it moderately, so that villagers can benefit from it and their way of farming and life can continue for another several decades."
After three years of development work, all the poor households in the ancient village have been lifted out of poverty. The dirt track has been transformed into a road five meters wide.
Liu has become part of the village's transformation by acquiring shares in his old house and his land has been transferred to the operating company.
"The company hired me to farm and I can earn about 50,000 yuan (7,071 U.S. dollars) a year," Liu said. He also has a tea garden and sells local products to tourists to earn more for a better life.
Thanks to the poverty-relief relocation program, a resettlement site has been built along the road outside the village, with two-story buildings surrounded by mountains and rivers.
Among them, Liu said, is his new house. Enditem