FIELD OF DREAMS: A farmer in Guangji Town, Mianzhu County, one of the worst-hit counties of the May 12 earthquake, harvests grain
One week after the 8.0-magnitude earthquake in southwestern Sichuan Province, 57-year-old farmer Li Fangyi of Anxian County, for the first time returned to his farmland to harvest wheat and rapeseed, which had been ripe for several days. Luckily for Li, all the five members of his family were working in the fields when the earthquake struck on May 12, so nobody was injured.
"Our house collapsed and our cow, sheep and pigs were killed by the earthquake. These crops are all we have. If we don't harvest them they could be wiped out by one downpour," Li said. He said he had seen an increasing number of people returning to the fields to harvest crops.
"We lost our home, but we still have our field and hands. We cannot sit still to wait for aid," he added.
The earthquake was much more tragic for Li Chenglin, a farmer from another village in Anxian County. He lost his son, daughter-in-law and grandson. He and his wife are the only survivors of his extended family. After shedding all his tears for the death of his family, this strong-willed senior citizen went back to his farmland to work. He said since he had survived the earthquake, he should live a better life through hard work.
As a major agricultural and husbandry province in China, Sichuan has about 4 million hectares of arable land. Farmers in Sichuan are known for their careful cultivation of farmland, which has high yields. In ancient China, Sichuan earned the nickname "Land of Natural Abundance" for its fertile farmland.
According to statistics, the earthquake on May 12 has affected nearly 240,000 hectares of farmland in Sichuan, of which 67,000 hectares were destroyed.
After the earthquake, local governments in the earthquake zone quickly moved farmers into newly built shelters, where they were provided with free meals and daily necessities.