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November 23, 2009

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Boom forces farmer to adapt

XIONG Xiuling, 45, has been a farmer on Chongming Island since she was very young.

What the Changjiang Tunnel-Bridge, operating since October 31, brought to her and her family has been both sweet and bitter.

Before, the woman planted tangerine, Chinese cabbage and radishes. Her husband was a bricklayer. They had a 21-year-old son who worked for a motor factory in urban Shanghai. She sold the vegetables and fruit to retailers.

Altogether, the family could earn more than 10,000 yuan (US$1,428) a year.

But starting this month, her Chinese cabbage and parts of the tangerine field no longer belong to her because the West Coast Wetland next to her field needed a larger parking lot for the tourist boom.


"They took away about 2,640 square meters of Chinese cabbage field and 5,940 square meters of tangerine fields on November 4 or 5," Xiong said.

"And for compensation, they gave me 97,720 yuan (US$14,300) all at once."

Now she owns a booth in the market outside the wetland, selling radishes to tourists.

And it's a relatively good business.

Farmers around her said the township government allowed her to occupy the best position in the market. She came to her booth as early as 4am every day, afraid her spot would be snatched by others.

Fortunately, the business, which operates to about 4pm every day, has been working out because of the large number of tourists.

When she gave up her fields, her Chinese cabbage was sold out in four hours. The tangerine trees were moved to the island's Mingzhu Lake area. The tangerines picked from the trees were packed in other fields, waiting for retailers to buy them.

"This year not many retailers came because the bad weather all over the country made transport harder," she said.

Luhua Town, where Xiong lives, promised her and her husband a job at the wetland for 960 yuan a month, she said, but up to the weekend, they hadn't receive any notice asking them to work.

"Now I can make money of 500 to 600 yuan a month, about the same as before," Xiong said.

"But I still worry about the future and hope to go to work as soon as possible."


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