You probably don’t know many farmers. Farming used to be a popular occupation in the United States, but today, it less widely practiced. Most of the US population (81%) also lives in urban areas where farming isn’t even an option. The population mix and available jobs greatly differ in China. By comparison, only 51% of China’s population lives in the cities. For the almost half of the population, rural living means an agricultural way of life.
Agricultural Way of Life
Over two-thirds of China’s rural population makes their living from farming, forestry or fishing. A rural family relies mainly on farming activities for income, which yield very low levels of productivity and revenue. Additionally, there are several realities that make an agricultural way of life even harder in rural China:
- Natural disasters like floods and droughts
- Lack of infrastructure like paved roads, markets or clean water
- Depleted natural resources and increasing farm sizes
- Lack of education and skills, including a disproportionate deficit among women
- Limited access to financial services, markets and value chains
- Reliance on traditional, manual farming techniques
The poorer the household, the larger portion of income is derived from agricultural activities. This puts even more pressure of the males to provide by any means necessary. The solution is often moving to a city in for a higher paying job. The tradeoff of the urban migration of males leaves women and children to particularly vulnerable.
Women Bear the Burden
With the male population leaving, the women are left to carry the burden of caring for the children and elders. Women are becoming the primary source of physical labor along with their children. The men that stay are working six days a week in the fields in a continual cycle of poverty.
The uphill battle of an agricultural lifestyle in rural China is just one of five contributing factors to the Poverty Crisis. Learn about the poverty reality in China and how you can make a difference today.