Farming is a traditional job, and agriculture is usually considered an inefficient industry. People normally think about poverty and backwardness when referring to agriculture, countryside and peasants.
However, in Xinjiang, a beautiful dawn has emerged in modern agriculture after a sunset.
Instead of the common disadvantages of developing agriculture in other regions, agriculture in Xinjiang has many advantages.
The resources, industries and technologies in Xinjiang serve as powerful support for big agriculture’s rapid growth and bode well for the prospects of Xinjiang’s agriculture.
As far as resources are concerned, abundant and well deployed water, farmland, and sunshine makes Xinjiang an ideal place to develop agriculture.
Xinjiang has large, fertile and concentrated farm land, which is convenient enough for gravity irrigation and large scale cultivation. Currently, irrigated areas have been developed to a large scale and there are dozens distributed in the north and south of the Tianshan Mountain, including Yerqiang River, Khotan River, Aral, Weigan River, Tiekanlik, Manas River, Yili River, Ta’er, Beitun, Qitan and Toutun River irrigation areas. In these regions, fertile land stretches on all sides as far as the eyes can see, which gives hope for good harvests.
The shortage of water in Xinjiang is not as serious as many of us may think. Melted snow from mountains has always been a reliable water resource. The average surface water rate is more than 80 billion cubic metres per year, equal to the water in the whole of the Yellow River. The underground water is abundant and has huge potential for artificial precipitation。This can be a very good blessing for an arid region in the middle of Asia. However, unbalanced distribution throughout the regions and the seasonality of the water requires improvements for irrigation works to be satisfactory.
Thanks to long, sunny days and big temperature differences between day and night, Xinjiang has abundant light and hot resources which are big advantages for growing crops. That explains why fruit and agricultural products in Xinjiang have a comparatively higher quality. You can well understand this scientific reason as long as you go to Turpan. Under a rolling heat wave of the Flaming Mountain is a grapes gully where springs run and a breeze cools. It is this fierce contrast which enables the grapes to be very tasty.
Xinjiang is a vast land with a low population density, fewer industrial and mining enterprises within irrigated areas and comparatively little pollution which results in agricultural products meeting the requirements of being green or natural and protecting the environment. Many crops can avoid damage by plant disease and insects, thanks to the comparatively closed geographical position, and thus the dosage of farm chemicals can be reduced to the minimum. Statistics also show products with a “green food” sign are among the most popular in China.
These advantages in resources enable agriculture in Xinjiang to have a huge potential.
Xinjiang’s agricultural industry is gradually breaking away from traditional production methods.
It's a pillar industry of mass production rather than a self-sufficient peasant economy. The traditional pattern of production based on a single unit peasant household is disappearing, by contrast, modern agriculture, which is based on state-owned, community-owned, company-owned or household farmland, is rising.
The regional character of agriculture is becoming increasingly obvious as the agricultural structure is getting stereotyped. Kashi and Aksu are the biggest cotton bases in China; Yili and Tacheng are important grain and oil bases; Jichang and Shihezi are beet bases for sugar manufacturing, tomato bases for jam manufacturing, grapes bases for wine manufacturing and hop bases for beer manufacturing. Besides, Turpan Basin and Qomul are bases of fresh grapes, watermelons, and melons, Korla is base for bergamot pears and Karamay is wood base for paper. In all these bases, there are large-scale and concentrated special planting zones.
Besides, crops with distinctive features in Xinjiang, though being produced on a small scale, also have good prospects, such as the Chinese wolfberry of Jinghe, safflower of Tacheng, barley of Qitai, walnut, fig and mulberry of Hetian, pomegranates of Yecheng, badanmu of Yingjisha, ‘Munage’ grapes of Atushi, melons of Jiashi, apricots of Kuche, jujubes of Hami, chilli of Bohu, Fernle mushroom of Qinghe, tulips, lavender, black currant and other wild berries of Yili, tobacco of the northern Xinjiang and bluish dogbane of the southern Xinjiang. Important chemical materials like snow lotus, licorice, Chinese ephedra and desert cistanche can also be cultivated in many places of Xinjiang.
Lots of rare treasures can be found in Xinjiang. The famous legendary novel Journey to the West has made people familiar with the legendary flat peach and ginseng fruit of longevity in the heaven, which can really be found in Xinjiang.
Agricultural products in Xijiang are special with strong regional features, as they cannot easily grow in other places. Even if they do grow elsewhere, their quality is often low compared with those from Xinjiang. No matter whether it’s the white cotton and sugar, red tomato, Chinese wolfberry, safflower, carrot and chili, or various kinds of colourful fruits and melons, only those produced in Xinjiang are really great.
One of Xinjiang’s important strategies is to develop featured agriculture. In order to achieve this goal, the governments at all levels and enterprises are making joint efforts. This requires shared, common sense approaches to the preparation of theoretical, policy, investment and market aspects.
Currently, Xinjiang is the only base for long-staple cotton and naturally colorful cotton in China, and also the major producing area of the common cotton. The cotton textile industry is being improved, with Esquel Textile, Kefang Cotton and Skycolor Technology being the pioneers of developed textile technology, which is gradually replacing traditional methods.
Almost all the tomato sauce in China is roduced in Xinjiang, and it plays a decisive role in the international market. Various products made of tomato are forming a large industry.
Xinjiang’s wine, a new arrival, is surpassing the old-timers. Brands like Xiangdu, Xintian, Loulan and Western Region are becoming popular.
Xinjiang’s hops are of good quality and high yield, influencing the national market.
The quality, yield and volume of exports of Chinese wolfberry are of the best in China.
Carrots from Xinjiang are of good quality, and carrot juice output is the biggest in China.
Bergamot pears, white apricots, wild berries, badanmu and Fernle mushrooms are exclusive products. Grapes, watermelons, melons, red jujubes, safflowers, and psammophytes as drug ingredients are competitive products.
Xinjiang's numerous rivers and lakes provide good conditions for the development of the fisheries industry which is large-scale, various and has met qualification standards.
Large-scale planting provides enough raw materials for the multiple manufacturing of agricultural products. Many competitive enterprises and listed companies are involved in producing, manufacturing, trade and technology services, which has promoted the industrialization of agriculture and greatly increased the competitive power of agriculture products.
Among the companies are Hope Group, Weiwei Group, Hualing Group, Kunlun Group, Huitong Group, Uni-Kross Ltd. Co., Xinjiang Tunhe Investment Company, Xinjiang Tarim Agriculture Development Company, Suntime International, Xinjiang Tianye, Xinjiang Koerle Pear Ltd. Co., Xinjiang Chalkis, Xinjiang Hops, and Xinjiang Yilite Industry etc.
The complete flow of planting, manufacturing and trade make Xinjiang’s agriculture a profitable big industry and it has developed to a new state.
Many featured agricultural products in Xinjiang are being developed, many rare products are emerging on the market, and they are expected to appear in foreign supermarkets in a few years.
Xinjiang has been advancing in the field of agricultural technology.
Agriculture in Xinjiang has been mostly mechanized and the practice is the main method of farming. Aerial applications of pesticides are performed, while weeding and cotton reaping by machine also occurs. The ploughing, grading, sowing, application and gathering procedures of staple agricultural products like cotton, wheat and corn are largely mechanized, and people manage and do some ancillary work.
In Xinjiang, irrigation technology is advanced, water resource facilities are good, the reservoir system has high impervious rate and the transbasin, transregional diversion works cover short distances.
Xianjiang has a long history of irrigation through diverting water. Besides open channels, the conduit derivation by using what is known as a kariz, an ancient water management system, help counter the problem of serious evaporation. In the Turpan Basin, karezes stretch a total distance of more than 5,000 kilometers, and are playing an important role. It is said that karizes, the Great Wall and the Great Channel are among the greatest projects in ancient China.
The common water-saving method is not popular today, while traditional field irrigation is being replaced by advanced sprinkler irrigation and drip irrigation, which will greatly increase efficiency and the water utilization ratio. The anti-seepage ratio of third class channels in Xinjiang is among the highest in China, with most of the fertile land reaching the standard of water-saving irrigation, and sprinkler irrigation. For example, Shihezi reclamation area is not only a state-level model base of water-saving irrigation, but also the world’s biggest water-saving irrigated area.
In Shihezi, you can see aircraft spraying pesticides and sowing seeds, the laser light flatting land, large-scale tractor operated machines, self-levelling irrigation, computerized fertilizer recommendation, water and soil monitoring systems. The computerized controlling room on the side of the huge farming land monitors in real time the drip irrigation of millions of acres of cotton. After getting buildings, electric lights and telephones, peasants can irrigate their farm land with only buttons. The proud words of cultivating a waste land fifty years ago have been basically realized.
High-level scientific research and the popularity of agricultural technology systems serve as powerful supports of seed selection, improvement and application for excellent agricultural varieties.
Despite certain distances between Xinjiang’s agriculture and the world’s advanced level, one can still expect good prospects for Xinjiang’s agriculture.