A farmer presents the apples he has just picked in an orchard in Qizil Township, Onsu County, Aksu Prefecture, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, Nov. 4, 2020. (Photo Courtesy of Aksu Daily)
Aksu Prefecture, northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, produced over 2.44 million tonnes of fruits last year which generated revenue of nearly 14.18 billion yuan ($2.19 billion). The income from the industry accounted for 30 percent of local per capita net income, making fruit planting one of the pillar industries of the local community.
Nurmemet Yasen from Egerchi Township, Aksu is one of the beneficiaries of the industry. His family earned 180,000 yuan last year by selling apples alone.
Besides, farmer Abibula Dawut, who grows red dates in Aksu's Topluq Township also received a bumper harvest last year. Thanks to the technical support offered by a local cooperative, the yield per mu (666.7 square meters) of the farmer surged 200 to 300 kilograms.
Immediately after Abibula picked the dates, the fruits were purchased by the cooperative. "We literally rushed to purchase them as they were really of high quality,” said Guo Yanchao, head of the cooperative.
"Mean on investing, the farmers suffered both low production and low quality of the fruits in the past,” said Li Zhigang, deputy head of Aksu's forestry and grassland bureau. Since 2019, the bureau has started exploring a new mode, in which the bureau offers farmers fertilizers and purchases services from cooperatives, and the cooperatives provide technical support for the farmers, Li introduced.
Kelimurat Tunyaz is an employee of a fruit processing company in Aksu. His competence has made him the chief of a workshop that manages over 70 employees. The company provides him 4,000 yuan per month, as well as food and accommodation.
"Many couples work here, and each couple can save 50,000 to 60,000 yuan each year,” said Zhao Wenge, general manager of the company. According to him, the company employs more than 350 local residents, and the number will further rise after a new plant completes construction.
At present, Aksu Prefecture is home to over 140 processing enterprises that screen and package fruits, and they also make fruit jam, juice, fruit wine and freeze-dried fruits. "We have established an industrial chain that not only increases the value of farm produce, but also creates jobs,” said Li Xinbin, Party chief of Aksu's forestry and grassland bureau. Over 3,000 jobs are offered during peak seasons of production by only 10 enterprises above designated size, he added. Today, Aksu has built multiple renowned brands for red dates, walnuts and apples, known as a great source of fruits.
What the fruit industry brings is also thriving eco-tourism. Gan Yongjun, who runs an agritainment facility in Kekeya, Aksu knows it well.
After a harvest of apples, Gan will soon embrace a large inflow of visitors during the upcoming Spring Festival. "The development of the fruit industry is making local ecology better and better," the man told People's Daily, who was the first one in Aksu to start an agritainment facility where he has a 20-mu apple orchard and four gers.
He started making profits in the third year running the facility, and his annual income always stays above 100,000 yuan. Last November, his second agritainment facility started operation.
Today, Gan has bought not only a house in downtown Aksu, but also a car. In addition, he has also expanded the figure in his bank account. Inspired by him, many local farmers opened agritainment facilities. Now Kekeya is home to over 130 such facilities that received more than 1.5 million visits last year and generated 758 million yuan of tourism revenue. They create jobs for thousands of local households.