Editor's note: The Sichuan-Tibet Plateau, a beautiful region that reaches toward the heavens, is a place showered with blue skies, covered in white clouds, and dotted with snow-covered mountains, but recently, something truly remarkable has been materializing among the households that call this place home. A groundbreaking historic change has been reshaping the land and its people. From today on, we will publish a series of stories to tell you those changes.
"The supermarket here is really convenient," Lower Ringo villagers comment happily. Along with the fairly priced commodities, the store also helps locals solve a great number of problems. Barley may be exchanged in lieu of cash, and poor households can start up tabs to be paid later whenever money is finally obtained.
The store sells fruits, vegetables, meats and some other side items, much like a regular supermarket found anywhere else, but this is an asset of the village collective, with local villagers treating it as a type of micro-cooperative. Manager Zhou Zhengyun contracted the store in July of 2016, and the rental income goes directly into the village collective's account, with commodities serving to solve the daily needs of locals.
The idea of using barley as a means of exchange was put forward by both the town of Ringo as well as Lower Ringo, a place where barley has been grown for generations. The exchange is based on whatever rate barley is worth on the market, and villagers can exchange it for whatever equivalently valued commodity they like. Different kinds of barley, though, have different prices based on their quality. Usually the darker the barley, the more it is worth. After it collects a certain amount, however, the village cooperative takes all it has accumulated and sells it, which is a tremendous asset in allowing villagers to rest assured that they no longer have to worry about if and how their products will be sold.
If a villager should have no money or barley, though, there is still no reason for alarm! A tab can be opened in the villager's name, and whenever funds or barley eventually do come along, he or she can easily clear out the difference and be on his or her way! After several months, Zhou Zhengyun's notebook has over a hundred items recorded, but he is not worried at all. "It's the village party secretary who will guarantee that the villagers pay their debts whenever they receive money in the future."
The Chinese version of this story is written by Huang Yingliang & Liu Kung and translated into English by Huang Wenjuan. And the story is sourced from the United Front Work Deparment of the Communist Party of China (CPC)Sichuan Provincial Committee.