Unfazed by US sanctions and smear campaign, farmers in Xinjiang more enthusiastic about growing cotton

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* In defiance of the United States’ economic bullying and outspoken vilification of Xinjiang cotton, farmers continue to cultivate the crop and sow the seeds of a better life in the region.

* There will be 37.57 million mu of cotton planting area in Xinjiang in 2022, up 2% from 2021.

* Cotton sowing is almost 100% mechanized in Xinjiang. In terms of harvesting, machines accounted for more than 80% of all work in the region in 2021.

by Xinhua Writers Sun Zhennan, Gao Han, Zhao Ge

URUMQI, April 17 (Xinhua) — The roar of tractors busy in fields on both sides of the Tianshan Mountains signals that cotton planting is in full swing in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

Jumay Hasan, an ethnic Uyghur, has planted cotton in Shaya County, Aksu Prefecture for eight years. This year, he plans to expand his plantation by 10 mu, which means he will plant 130 mu (about 8.7 hectares) of cotton.

“I earned 2,000 yuan (about US$314) in profit for each mu last year,” he said. “If everything goes well, I can earn at least 20,000 yuan more this year.”

Jumay Hasan is just one of countless farmers in the region who, in defiance of US economic bullying and outspoken vilification of Xinjiang cotton, continue to grow the crop and sow the seeds of it. a better life in the whole region.

WATERPROOF AND CONFIDENT

Despite US sanctions on Xinjiang cotton, Jumay Hasan is confident, and for good reason. Shaya’s high-quality cotton enjoys an excellent reputation, earning it the distinction of “hometown of cotton in the Tarim Basin of China”.

Jumay Hasan’s buoyancy on the crop is not isolated. Another Uyghur farmer, Imin Anayet, also from Shaya, earns 2.5 million yuan a year from cotton planting. He also runs a farmers’ cooperative, with 10,000 mu of land under contract, providing jobs for over 230 local farmers.

According to estimates by the China Cotton Association, there will be 37.57 million mu of cotton planting area in Xinjiang in 2022, up 2 percent from 2021.

Data released by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that cotton production in Xinjiang exceeded 5.1 million tons last year, accounting for 89.5 percent of the country’s total cotton output. Moreover, the region has ranked first in China for more than 20 years in terms of total cotton production, unit yield, planted area and product allocation.

“Xinjiang has unique natural conditions, abundant sunshine and a long cotton growth cycle. It is not only the largest high-quality cotton production base in China, but also of global significance,” said Peng Changming, vice president of the Xinjiang Cotton Association.

ALL MACHINES, NO FORCED LABOR

Regarding baseless accusations by the United States, such as “forced labor”, Jumay Hasan said, “How could this be possible? From plowing to harrowing, from sowing to harvesting, everything is almost entirely made by machines. This year, he completed all of his field sowing work in five days, a feat impossible if these tasks had been done manually.

Abdugani Abdukeyum, a Uyghur farmer from Bachu county, Kashgar prefecture, said, “We are using BeiDou satellite navigation system guided seeder for sowing, which works accurately and efficiently.

According to a report released last year by Jinan University’s Institute for Border Communication and Governance, cotton sowing is nearly 100 percent mechanized in Xinjiang.

Additionally, in terms of harvesting, machinery accounted for more than 80 percent of all labor in the region in 2021, the Xinjiang Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said.

Muhtar Rohman, a Uyghur agricultural machinery operator in Shaya, witnessed first-hand the transformation of the cotton industry from manual to mechanical.

“I watched my parents work hard in the field when I was young, and I remember wishing ‘if only I had a machine to help them,'” he said. In April 2021, he finally realized his dream. Using the new cotton picking machine, he helps farmers with their harvest and now earns more than 100,000 yuan a year.

COTTON BRINGS HAPPINESS

The high rate of mechanization was propelled by the acceleration of large-scale cotton production at the regional level, which in turn was stimulated by the expansion of farmers’ cooperatives.

At the end of 2019, Xinjiang was home to 26,424 agricultural cooperatives. According to the region’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, an average of 2,000 new cooperatives were created each year from 2010 to 2019.

Yelikat Kalimukan, a Kazakh cotton farmer from Shiqiao township in Usu town, said his town’s cooperative has helped him cut costs.

“Our cooperative provides high-quality seeds and affordable farming equipment free of charge, which saves us about 80 to 100 yuan on each mu. It helps to increase the income of our small households,” said Yelikat Kalimukan.

Since joining a co-op in 2020, Jumay Hasan says the technical expertise and mechanical services have paid off.

“Last year, the yield per mu of our cooperative was 410 kilograms, and I earned a total of 240,000 yuan,” said Jumay Hasan. “Cotton brings us fortune and happiness!”

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