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CUCAS News > School News > SMU Students Help the Yi Village Emerge from Poverty

SMU Students Help the Yi Village Emerge from Poverty

Date: March 26, 2019

Located in the northern part of Sichuan Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Lihua Village in Yuexi County has a cool climate and beautiful environment, suitable for planting high-quality potatoes. However, the potato industry, which could have helped alliviate poverty, is not ideal in the local development. Due to backward farming techniques and uneven quality, about 700 tons of potatoes are unsalable every year in Lihua Village.

When the local people were worried about such a situation, a group of students from the Southwest Minzu University (SMU) who came here to carry out social practice during the winter vacation brought hope to them. What is unexpected is that “digesting” these potatoes piled up by the villagers’ houses actually depends on a special “soap”.

What is the relationship between soap and potato?

It turned that during the winter vacation, Wu Meng fan and Chen Yi and other students from SMU found in their social practice that potato was the main crop at local but didn’t bring sufficient economic benefits to peasants.
How to transform “potato” into “hot property” has been lingering in the heart of students.

After returning to school, everyone took immediate action and established a team called “Yipian Jingtu (one pure land)”. By consulting experts and looking through the literature, they found that there exists a substance called glycoalkaloids in potato, which is bacteriostatic and degerming. In addition, the starch in potato has the function of adsorbing dirt and oil stains, and is an excellent raw material for making detergent. The idea of “Could potatoes be turned into soap?” is gradually clear in the minds of college students.

Although the principle of saponification is easy to understand, it is pretty difficult to make potatoes into soap. How high is the temperature to maximize the effectiveness of the active ingredients in the potatoes? What kind of ratio will make potato soap the most effective cleanser? All these questions need to be tested again and again to verify their results. Furthermore, “potato soap” must achieve zero pollution, and its color and aroma can meet various needs of consumers.

To this end, the team members constantly made experiments and, with the support of the school, they conducted more accurate and professional analysis in the laboratory. After one year of hard work, “Potato Soap” was finally developed and developed a complete and standardized production process.

This time, the college students came to Lihua Village again with their fine product “potato soap”. The villagers got surprised and wondered how these students turned potato into soap.

The team is still actively pursuing the sales of “potato soap”. Not long ago, the relevant person in charge of the Hilton Hotel Group learned about the work of the team “Yipian Jingtu” in an innovation and entrepreneuship competition, and took a keen interest in the potato cleaning series, saying that it can cooperate with Lihua Village and introduce local “potato soap” to the Hilton hotel room. In addition, the team also docked with multiple household appliances, and strived to open the market for “potato soap” through the “online plus offline” model.

“We want to protect this pure land in our way.” This winter vacation, the team “Yipian Jingtu” went to Liangshan to negotiate with the local government to set up a cooperative to teach the local villagers processing technology, put a large number of unsalable potatoes into the production of clean products, and boost local employment. The little potatoes turned into gorgeous in the students’ whimsy, not only “rolling” to the outside world, but also paving the way for poverty alleviation of the Yi Village.



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