The story appears on

Page A4

December 10, 2012

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Metro

Plucky duck farmer's tenacity proves many naysayers wrong

QIAN Weijie, a university graduate with a degree in advertising, shocked family and friends when she decided to go into farming upon leaving school.

After two exhausting years without profit, her duck farm is finally on the road to success.

"Setting up my own business has been very tiring," she said. "But I love it."

Qian now plans to double the size of her farm in suburban Fengxian District. Its development was helped by a 50,000 yuan (US$8,064), no-interest loan from Youth Business China, a nonprofit program that aims to promote youth entrepreneurship.

Qian graduated from Shanghai Finance University in 2009. Her decision to become a farmer initially met strong opposition from others, especially her father, because agriculture is traditionally viewed as a low-status job, especially unsuitable for a university graduate. Her parents are local farmers in Fengxian, and they expected their daughter to become a highly paid white-collar worker in a nice office building.

"I didn't want to work in a cramped concrete jungle," she said. "My heart is with the soil. Farming is not just a job to feed myself. Rather, it's a lifestyle that I want. That's why I persevered."

It was a tough slog at the start. Qian got up at 4am every day to feed her ducks and had to cart around feedbags weighing up to 50 kilograms each. Her skin became rough and raw from manual work. Her legs were covered with insect bites.

She was once cheated by a supplier who sold her sick ducklings, and she was even ejected from a local market by other vendors who didn't want competition. Many villagers laughed at Qian's high-cost methods of raising ducks on organic rather than chemical feed. They predicted she would fail.

Everyone underestimated her pluck.

Her strategy of producing better eggs and better meat by feeding ducks with natural feed such as shrimp, silkworm pupas and ginseng paid off.

As Chinese consumers became more anxious about food quality following widespread tainted-food scandals, organically grown products gained in popularity.

By her third year of farming, Qian began to turn a profit. Her ducks and their eggs were sought after in local food markets. Hotels and tourist restaurants joined the list of customers, and downtown residents even drive to her farm to buy her products.

Her parents have become enthusiastic supporters, giving up their traditional shrimp and fish farming to help Qian in the duck business.

"It's a family-run business now," she said proudly. "We are working and living on the farm happily together."

She recently passed her agricultural exam and obtained a license as a farm agent, allowing her to represent other farms to expand her range of products.

"I plan to grow corn in the next phase of my business," she said.

Longer term, Qian has even thought of building a holiday retreat near her farm to give urbanites a chance to experience a rural lifestyle.

Q: What's the biggest challenge you faced in starting your own business?

It's very hard work, and perseverance is important. I suffered big losses in my first two years, but the trick is to remain optimistic and never give up.

Q: How has the experience changed you?

It allowed me to live the lifestyle I wanted, away from an enclosed, cramped office.

Q: Have you ever regretted your decision?

No. I enjoy the farm life. To me, it's not only a job, it's a lifestyle.

Q: What advice do you have for young people who want to start their own businesses?

You must remember that it's tough and demanding to start your own business. Hard work and perseverance are the most important qualities for entrepreneurs.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend