YINCHUAN－Hu Caihong is the first woman in her village to artificially inseminate cattle, the first to ride a motorcycle and the first to receive the honorary title of a national role model worker.
Hu, who studied veterinary medicine, returned to her home village in Guyuan, Ningxia Hui autonomous region, after working at a cattle farm in the city for 10 months in 1994. Guyuan is located in the Xihaigu region, which used to wallow in grinding poverty.
In Hu’s village, few women can read. All they do is slog away in the kitchen and take care of the elderly and children.
But Hu was determined to help local cattle farmers improve breeds via artificial insemination, thus increasing productivity and profitability.
“My family opposed my decision to do the ‘indecent’ job of artificially inseminating cattle. Even local cattle farmers did not trust me. They thought women would be unable to do it well,” said Hu, 47.
To dispel doubts, she provided free on-site guidance on artificial insemination and breeding techniques to cattle farmers.
She became the first woman in her village to buy and ride a motorbike. Sometimes, she had to travel more than 30 kilometers a day between different cowsheds, despite blizzards and rainstorms.
Her diligence and excellent breeding skills finally won her praise, and more villagers began to accept advanced breeding techniques.
“I will fear nothing as long as people can understand me and my endeavors,” Hu said.
In 2007, Hu set up a rural cooperative and provided cattle breeding services for residents of five townships. The service was free for poverty-stricken villagers. With better-quality beef and a shorter growth cycle, an improved cattle breed can fetch every farmer about 2,000 yuan ($300) extra a year.
Hu also began raising chicken in recent years. With her help, about 1,500 local cattle and chicken farmers saw their annual income rise by an average of 1,500 yuan.
“She can do everything well if she wants,” said 52-year-old Lei Junxia, Hu’s sister-in-law.
Encouraged and assisted by Hu, Lei has also learned how to improve cattle breeds and ride a motorbike.
“I can earn 5,000 yuan a month,” Lei said. “Without Hu, I would not have dared dream of such good days.”
Over the years, Hu has won many county-level and national-level awards, including being dubbed a national role model worker in 2010.
At a gathering in Beijing on Tuesday, 1,689 people from all walks of life were honored as national role model workers and 804 as exemplary individuals.
Hu’s given name is Caihong, which means “rainbow” in English. She is an icon in her village now, and many women aspire to lead a life like hers.
The honors she has earned have not diminished her pioneering spirit. From morning to night, she is busy at her chicken farm, which is home to some 15,000 fowl.
“No matter what you raise, being diligent is always right,” Hu said.