XINING -- Farmers in Northwest China's Qinghai province are casting off poverty with the businesses of hand-pulled noodles, a local specialty.
According to the provincial human resources and social security department (HRSSD), Qinghai's hand-pulled noodle businesses generated a revenue of 18 billion yuan ($2.6 billion) across China last year, meaning the province's migrant workers made a combined salary of nearly 4 billion yuan.
Most of those engaged in the noodle business are from Qinghai's Haidong City, a place with boundless mountains and deep valleys, and known for prolonged droughts. It is one of the poorest areas in China.
In recent years, with government support, an increasing number of local farmers have gone to big cities like Beijing and Guangzhou to open noodle restaurants.
"In a poverty-stricken family with fewer than five members, as long as one of them is in the noodle business, all of them can shake off poverty," said Yang Yi, head of the HRSSD.
Yang said that the provincial government has granted loans worth 1.12 billion yuan to about 15,000 locals in Haidong in recent years to help them start businesses. It has set up about 90 agencies outside Qinghai to help their migrants obtain business certificates, get market information and assist their children's education.
By the end of 2016, Qinghai's farmers had opened about 29,000 noodle restaurants in 280 Chinese cities, accounting for about 40 percent of all noodle businesses in China. The restaurants employed 182,000 Qinghai farmers, with their annual income per capita exceeding 20,000 yuan on average. Last year, about 4,000 poor farmers newly employed in the business shook off poverty.
"We will continue to provide preferential policies to support the business development in order to help people live better lives," Yang said.