"No, I'm not a city person...I'm just a vegetable seller.
I'm a country man, and I always will be."
Mr. Li is from the town of Xinyang in Henan Province. He is forty-six years old, and has sold vegetables on the street in Zhudi for the past two years. He is a veteran of several cities and several different small business ventures. He farmed in his hometown until he left ten years ago and hopes someday to return. He lives with his wife in a small one-room apartment in Zhudi.
Henan (Chinese: 河南) is a province of the People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the country. Its one-character abbreviation is "豫" (yù), named after Yuzhou (豫州; Yùzhōu), a Han Dynasty state (zhou) that included parts of Henan. Although the name of the province (河南) means "south of the river", approximately a quarter of the province lies north of the Yellow River, also known as the "Huang He".
Henan is often referred to as Zhongyuan or Zhongzhou (中州) which literally means "central plain land" or "midland", although the name is also applied to the entirety of China proper. Henan is the birthplace of Chinese civilization with over 3,000 years of recorded history, and remained China's cultural, economical, and political center until approximately 1,000 years ago. Numerous heritages have been left behind including the ruins of Shang Dynasty capital city Yin and the Shaolin Temple. Four of the Eight Great Ancient Capitals of China, Luoyang, Anyang, Kaifeng, and Zhengzhou are located in Henan.
With an area of 167,000 km2 (64,479 sq mi), Henan covers a large part of the fertile and densely populated North China Plain. Its neighbouring provinces are Shaanxi, Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong, Anhui, and Hubei. Henan is China's third most populous province with a population of over 94 million. If it were a country by itself, Henan would be the 12th most populous country in the world, behind Mexico and ahead of Vietnam.
More on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henan
Farming in China
Following the Communist Party of China's victory in the Chinese Civil War, control of the farmlands was taken away from landlords and redistributed to the 300 million peasant farmers. In 1952, gradually consolidating its power following the civil war, the government began organizing the peasants into teams. Three years later, these teams were combined into producer cooperatives, enacting the Socialist goal of collective land ownership.
In the 1958 "Great Leap Forward" campaign initiated by Mao Zedong, land use was placed under closer government control in an effort to improve agricultural output. Collectives were organized into communes, private food production was banned, and collective eating was required. Greater emphasis was also put on industrialization instead of agriculture. The farming inefficiencies created by this campaign led to The Great Chinese Famine, resulting in the deaths of somewhere between the government estimate of 14 million to scholarly estimates of 20 to 43 million. Although private plots of land were re-instated in 1962 due to this failure, communes remained the dominant rural unit of economic organization.
Beginning in 1978, as part of the Four Modernizations campaign, the Family Production Responsibility System was created, dismantling communes and giving agricultural production responsibility back to individual households. Households are now given crop quotas that they were required to provide to their collective unit in return for tools, draft animals, seeds, and other essentials. Households, which now lease land from their collectives, are free to use their farmland however they see fit as long as they meet these quotas. This freedom has given more power to individual families to meet their individual needs.
As China continues to industrialize, vast swaths of agricultural land are being converted into industrial land. Farmers displaced by such urban expansion often become migrant labor for factories, but other farmers feel disenfranchised and cheated by the encroachment of industry and the growing disparity between urban and rural wealth and income.
More on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agriculture_in_China