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Student sees duck business begin to take flight

A LOCAL university student has decided to go into full-time duck farming after she graduates in June, having already found some success in farming ducks near her home in suburban Feng°?xian District.

Qian Weijie, an advertising major at Shanghai Finance University, began to farm ducks in her holidays and free time and now has five employees who help her.

But her decision initially met strong opposition from others, especially her father, due to the traditional Chinese belief that farming is a low-status job, unsuitable for a university graduate.

"I don't want to work in a cramped concrete city," she says. "I cannot leave nature."

Qian started farming ducks two years ago simply to support her parents, who could not eat chickens or chicken eggs due to heath concerns.

It's hard to find good ducks and duck eggs, she says, as most ducks are given chemical feed in the county farms.

Qian soon saw prospects in raising well-fed ducks, and her business began to expand.

At first, running the business alone, the work was extremely tough. Qian got up at 4am every day to feed her ducks and carried feed weighing more than 50 kilograms herself. Her skin became raw from the work and her legs were bitten by insects in the duck feed.

Qian was once cheated by a supplier who sold her many sick ducks among 3,000 that she bought. She was even thrown out of a local market by other duck vendors.

But her belief in the business inspired her to persevere and learn from such experiences. The farm has now grown in scale and she currently raises around 7,000 ducks.

Her eggs and ducks are mainly purchased by large companies in the district.

Qian has other ideas and plans to build a holiday lodge near her farm in the future for urbanites or retired people.

She is applying for funds from Youth Business China, an organization that helps entrepreneurs, and she plans to expand her business so it can sell to the whole city.


Q: How did you get your startup cash?

A: My mother gave me great support and we secretly sold a house to pay for the rent of the duck farm. We kept the secret from my father for a long time and he finally agreed to help me after seeing my perseverance.

Q: What's different about your products?

A: I feed my ducks with expensive natural feed including shrimps, silkworm chrysalises and even ginseng. Many villagers laugh at me. But I believe my ducks and their eggs taste better and have more nutrients.

Q: Have you benefited from any government policies to encourage graduate startups?

A: No. The policies are mainly targeted at graduates who open commercial enterprises instead of my rural cooperative. I hope there will be more favorable policies for students engaged in farming.

Expert's advice:

Wan Zaikui, instructor at the Shanghai Youth Entrepreneurship Campaign, says:

"I have been to the farm and I suggest she keeps the environment there clean and tidy, just like those beautiful overseas farms we see in pictures. It will be a good advertisement to embody her progressive farm ideas."


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