Stories from the field Author: Tim Franco Comments
ASIA: China

Small patches of farmed land are trying to survive surrounded by construction as the city advances into the country side. Chongqing city, one of the biggest in central China, has gone through one of the fastest development processes in the country. The main reason is, located upstream of the Three Gorges Dam, the government has welcomed all the displaced population from the submerged region into its main urban areas. The city is fascinating because of its accelerated development that produced high rises buildings on the side of rivers and mountains, taking over the farmlands and old architecture, but also because of its political and social history.

Ren Yidi, 66 years old, was once a proud farmer. His land has been taken in exchange for an apartment in a high rise. He continues to do the only thing he knows inside the city - farming.  Many of the former farmers are now struggling to scrape together a decent living in the city. Members of the older generation are finding it particularly hard to adapt. People continue doing the only thing they know: they keep farming, next to highways and skyscrapers.

The latest office building development project just opened with many national and international companies occupying its floors. Two worlds collide in this Megacity. The former countryside, wiped out by the growing metropolis, still peeks out in small green areas left between newly constructed colossal buildings. Scenes like this, in which people tend to their modest patches of land while in the background hulking skyscrapers rise into the smog, look like something out of a sci-fi movie.

A woman is turning earth to farm it on a side of construction site in the development area of Chongqing.  As a famer, she lives in the city and she uses fresh soil directly from the construction site to grow vegetables in the downtown area. It's probably a rare scene in other places, but this is common in Chongqing now.

There is even land being farmed below the highest bridge in the city crossing the Yangtse River. As the grey of cities engulfs farmland, China is seeing its self-sufficiency in food production diminish. There has been a downward trend in the country’s grain production, and the rise in wealth has led to an increase in consumption of meat, which has to be imported in ever greater amounts. Vast societal changes lead us back to fundamental questions of where to obtain sufficient food and by what means.

* Tim Franco is the Winner of 2017 ACCCRN Photo Essay competition

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