CHONGQING, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) -- In a 1,500-square-meter warehouse in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, 500 blue boxes each about the size of a TV set stand in lines. Earthworms crawl in the boxes.
It is an earthworm farm in Longtai Village of Wuxi County. The little wriggling worms have helped many out of poverty.
"In the past, earthworms were just little worms in the village," said Lu Maoliang, Party chief of the village. "Now they are like gold in the earth."
The earthworm farm was set up with the help of the Communist youth leagues of Chongqing and Wuxi County, and China Construction Second Engineering Bureau Ltd.
Currently, the farm can generate a revenue of about 400,000 yuan (59,411 U.S. dollars) a year. It plans to expand to 2,000 boxes next year.
"Earthworms can be used in medicine and cosmetic products. They also help protect the environment," said Chen Keyu, from China Construction Second Engineering Bureau Ltd.
Earthworms' food comes from a cattle farm nearby, Chen said.
"We feed the worms with dried cow dung," he said.
In the past, villagers thought the cow dung was too dirty, but with the earthworm farm, the waste can be effectively used, Chen said.
"The cow dung is usually dried and fermented before being fed to the worms," he said. "Meanwhile, the waste from the worms is natural organic fertilizer, which can be used to grow vegetables and fruits."
The village's farms are now using earthworm waste, and the quality of the vegetables and fruit is far better.
"Vegetables are greener and stronger," said Lu. "The earthworm project truly helped improve lives here."
Ding Weimi, 62, came from one of the poor families in the village. Now working on the earthworm farm, she can make more than 10,000 yuan a year.
"There were 20 disadvantaged families in the village. Three of them, including Ding, work on the earthworm farm. The rest of them are eligible to share the revenue," Lu said.
Wuxi County, home to 540,000 residents, is one of the poorest places in Chongqing. From 2015 to 2017, more than 70,000 people were lifted out of poverty here. Authorities plan to help 11,000 more people out of poverty by the end of this year.
China has set 2020 as the target to finish building a moderately prosperous society and eradicate poverty.