• Wed. Oct 28th, 2020

Rat farmers in China feel COVID-19 pain.

Byflorence wairimu

Aug 20, 2020

Bamboo rat farmer Liu Yanqun was starting to make plump returns from rodents in his farm in Central China when coronavirus broke out at the end of last year.

This killer virus has been linked to China’s wildlife trade, with scientists saying it could have generated in bats and been transmitted to people through a mammal. Chinese authorities imposed a national ban on trade and consumption of various animals that are used in speciality region dishes, including bamboo rats, cobras and civet cats.

This ban has cost tens of thousands of jobs in rural China, where it is relatively cheap form of farming of wildlife had once been promoted as a way to lift people out of poverty.

“I felt like breaking down…it’s hard for me to find another job,”said Liu who has seen his modest business farming about 800 rats fall apart.

‘I don’t have a clear plan on what to do next.’

Liu who is 38, have converted the six rooms of his old family house-nestled deep in winding, mountainous roads into rat farm for about six years ago. He had just been starting to make decent returns last year and like many other farmers, government compensation packages for ending his business have not been enough.

Authorities evaluated farms and inventories, offering 75 Yuan for a kilogram of bamboo rat, 120 Yuan for that of cobra and 600 Yuan for each civet cat. Farmers told AFP the buyout did not met the market value of animals, and only covered a small proportion of infrastructure costs on their farms.

One bamboo rat farmer said the buyout covered just half of his animals’ market value. Other farmers struggled a lot while authorities took time to assess livestock.

Li Weiguo who is 61 old, said that they could not kill or sell them. He added and said that many of his reptiles died at the time the authorities came for them. Li Weiguo had 3000 snakes and only received a compensation 1600.

On the other hand, China’s clampdown on exotic animal farms has affected nearly250000 jobs with businesses unable to sell animals worth 11 billion Yuan. Now the farmers are saying to AFP that they were struggling to repay debts with little capital to start new ventures.  All money for businesses came from loans, friends, and relatives and we have no means to repay them Li added.

Huang Guohua who is a bamboo rat farmer had been left with more than 400,000 Yuan in debt. He says that he had plans on expanding the business but coronavirus outbreak caused him to suffer a huge loss. His plan was to triple the scale of his farm but money he poured into infrastructure has gone down the drain due of wildlife ban.

Before covid-19 dragged the economic growth, more than five million rural Chinese lived in poverty-defined by government as surviving on less than2,300 Yuan[$326] a year. With the epidemic this year we are turning to poverty and to a worse state than before.  

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