NANCHANG, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Who said only white-collar workers get a year-end bonus? Many Chinese farmers are bidding farewell to humble incomes and welcoming in the new year with big bonuses.
Liu Gaomei, 50, a farmer from Dinghu township, Nanchang city, eastern China's Jiangxi Province, recently received a 300,000 yuan (43,703 U.S. dollars) bonus from his boss Ling Jihe.
Ling, 55, left his home in Dinghu to sell construction material and cell phones in big cities, becoming a successful businessman with assets of tens of millions of yuan.
Looking to try his luck in agriculture, Ling returned to his hometown in 2010, set up an agricultural company and rented land from local farmers, employing them to till the land.
Besides their monthly income, the farmers get different year-end bonuses based on their output.
The land he rented grew from 4,700 mu (313 hectares) in 2010 to the current 19,000 mu, and the year-end bonus for the farmers also rose from 560,000 to 3.08 million yuan.
In 2016, many provinces in southern China were plagued by flooding or drought, and some farmers even suffered losses due to the low grain price.
Ling focused his harvest on growing healthy and green food.
In order to produce quality rice, Ling was careful in breed selecting. His farms use agricultural machines and organic food production practices.
"Though our rice is more expensive than the ordinary rice, it is popular in the market, and some local people also come here to buy our products," he said. "Chinese people are paying more attention to health and food quality, with the rise of living standards."
Ling's success in farming has attracted young people to join him.
Xiong Hairen, born in 1995, used to be a migrant worker in the provinces of Zhejiang and Guangdong. But working in the city he could only make 2,000 yuan per month.
Attracted by Ling's new mode of farming, he quit his job and went back to be a farmer. He has got a year-end bonus of over 100,000 yuan each year for the past two years.
"A friend of mine wanted to replace Xiong Hairen to farm that piece of land, but I refused," Ling said. "It is important to protect young people's passion in agriculture so that more talent will join the sector."
He said that his purpose of giving year-end bonuses to farmers was also to attract public attention so that more people would become interested and confident in agriculture.
Besides renting land, Ling has also been involved in land trusteeship: taking care of others' land by offering various services, including fertilizer purchasing, mechanized farming and marketing.
Xiong Shanlian, a local farmer who has entrusted 250 mu of land to Ling, earned 140,000 yuan in 2016. "All you need to do is a call, and they will do everything for you," he said.
He also estimated that by entrusting land to more experienced people, he made an extra 200 yuan for every mu.
Issues about agriculture, farmers' income and rural life have always been high on China's development agenda. The country will continue with supply-side agricultural structural reform in 2017 to improve quality and efficiency in the sector, according to the central rural work conference held in December last year.
Ling said that he was aiming to increase the coverage of entrusted land from 30,000 to 50,000 mu in 2017.
"If I can help increase the profits on every mu of land by 200 yuan, farmers will be able to make an extra of more than 10 million yuan from their land," Ling said. "The image of Chinese farmers is changing. Like working in the cities, farming is also becoming a decent career."