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September 18, 2010

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Remote seaside Haiwan forges ahead

BLESSED with the city's longest undeveloped coastline, the largest green coverage and lowest population density, Haiwan Town in Fengxian District is celebrating its fifth anniversary.

In September 2005, three farms -- Liaoyuan, Wusi and Xinghuo -- were merged to form the Haiwan Town on the city's southern tip.

Over the past five years, the remote town has been building itself into one of the city's biggest agricultural centers providing grain, fruits, vegetables and dairy products.

"With the land resources increasing scarce, developing the marine economy has become a new possibility and we're starting to exploit marine resources," says Chen Jianguo, director of Haiwan Town.

The town's 25-kilometer-long coastline is the longest in the city and the only major stretch that hasn't been developed. There's plenty of fresh air, sandy beaches, clean unpolluted sea and thick forests. Locals lead a quiet life by the sea.

Near the east-west shoreline, a national forest park covers 1,067 hectares. There's a vegetable and fruit garden for urban dwellers who want to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life and a university town with quite a few colleges.

"The housing used to be rather poor and each time they visited, my friends from Nanqiao Town always tried to persuade me to move," says Chen Guojin, director of the town's Zhonggang Community. "But things are totally different now, with the improvement of the public facilities and renovation of old houses."

In recent years, local government invested almost 600 million yuan (US$89 million) to set up a townwide sewage system, give a face-lift to old houses, roads, schools and bridges and build parks, playgrounds, hospitals, medical stations and community cultural centers.

"In the old days, Liaoyuan Farm was stuck in the middle of nowhere without any public transport," says Zhu Shifang, who has been living in the Liaoyuan area for decades.

The only bus line that reached Haiwan Town was the Tangsi Line that ran from Tangqiao Town in the Pudong New Area to Wusi Farm. Those who wanted to go to Liaoyuan had to ride bikes or walk, often barefoot.

"The road was so bumpy that locals nicknamed it 'the moon's surface'," she says.

Since the farms were merged, roads have been widened and improved and bus lines have been added to link the three towns with the outside world. Air-conditioned buses ply the roads.

The A2 Highway in the east and the A4 Highway in the west cross the town make the downtown more accessible. Central Puxing Road and the A3, B2, Linhai and Wahong roads, which are to be built, will make transport more coinvent. The Pudong Railway stops at Xinghuo Farm.

"The vast farms are the biggest advantage we have," says town director Chen. "Focusing on the farm tourism industry and developing seaside tourism is the way out for Haiwan."

The town is trying to brand and promote its "Shanghai Quality Agricultural Products" among city dwellers, including Xinxin grapes, Aisen meat and Xinghui vegetables, among others.

The Xinghuo Farm Industrial Park is developing the food-packaging industry, biomedical research and other industries.

Each summer, the orchards attract a steady flow of visitors who pick fruits and vegetables on the farm.

Tourism sites include the Urban Garden, Songsheng Horseback Riding Club, Haiwan Forest Park and the Farming Museum. Last year the sites had more than 540,000 visitors and a sales volume of more than 38.6 million yuan.

"In the past five years we have achieved a milestone and the next five-year plan has been outlined," says the town director. "We still have a long way to go."


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