Bear­ing Fruit

Xin­jiang’s poverty alle­vi­a­tion pro­grams yield tan­gi­ble re­sults

Beijing Review - - NATION - By Wang Hairong

What do naan bread, paint­ings drawn with sol­der­ing irons, ex­quis­ite hand­made tam­buras, elab­o­rately em­broi­dered gar­ments, ed­i­ble fungi, raisins, mel­ons and home-baked cakes have in com­mon? They were on dis­play at the sixth China-eura­sia Expo held in Urumqi, cap­i­tal of north­west China’s Xin­jiang Uygur Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion, on Au­gust 30 and Septem­ber 1. They also shared a com­mon ori­gin: They were all prod­ucts of poverty alle­vi­a­tion pro­grams in Xin­jiang.

In re­cent years, Xin­jiang has launched many tar­geted anti-poverty pro­grams. In 2017, 317,400 peo­ple in Xin­jiang were lifted out of poverty, and 331 vil­lages and three coun­ties were taken off the poverty list. The poverty in­ci­dence rate dropped from 15.5 per­cent in 2016 to 12.6 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to the au­ton­o­mous re­gion’s poverty alle­vi­a­tion and de­vel­op­ment of­fice.

Since 2014, gov­ern­ment or­gans, sta­te­owned en­ter­prises and pub­lic in­sti­tu­tions in Xin­jiang have sent task groups to vil­lages and com­mu­ni­ties to help lo­cal res­i­dents elim­i­nate poverty, im­prove in­fra­struc­ture and strengthen cul­tural and ed­u­ca­tional work. With the help of these groups, many achieve­ments have been made.

Bread earners

May Yi Vil­lage in Ar­tux City had 406 poor house­holds, ac­count­ing for 47.7 per­cent of the pop­u­la­tion be­fore a ru­ral co­op­er­a­tive spe­cial­iz­ing in bak­ing naan was set up in the vil­lage in March.

The co­op­er­a­tive em­ployed 25 pover­tys­tricken peo­ple, turn­ing them into bread earners for their re­spec­tive fam­i­lies, said Wang Xuan­wei, the vil­lage head and mem­ber of a poverty re­duc­tion group. “Now we pro- duce 4,500-6,000 pieces of naan every day. Em­ploy­ees can make 3,000 yuan ($433) a month on aver­age,” he said.

Naan, the size of basins pro­duced by the co­op­er­a­tive, is par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive. Every bread in a batch bears a dif­fer­ent Chi­nese char­ac­ter at its cen­ter, and to­gether they spell out “eth­nic unity.” In ad­di­tion to these large ones, the co­op­er­a­tive pro­duces naan of var­i­ous sizes.

They are not only sold lo­cally. The co­op­er­a­tive brought their naan to the sixth Chi­naEura­sia Expo, where it reached agree­ments with com­pa­nies in other Xin­jiang cities such as Urumqi and Changji, and prov­inces such as Guang­dong and Shaanxi to ship the bread to them by air to meet mar­ket de­mands.

Golden eggs

Stand­ing be­side a bas­ket hold­ing two huge yel­low mel­ons, Wang Peng, an of­fi­cial with the Gen­eral Of­fice of the Gov­ern­ment of Xin­jiang Uygur Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion, told Bei­jing Re­view dur­ing the expo that the highly sweet fruit has be­come a sig­nif­i­cant source of in­come for grow­ers.

A photo be­hind him showed the large egg- shaped mel­ons at har­vest, freshly plucked from their vines and piled in the fields in Kara Yar Vil­lage in Kash­gar Pre­fec­ture, ready to be shipped out to mar­ket.

Wang said that when he was sent to the vil­lage as part of a poverty alle­vi­a­tion group

Vil­lagers taste sweet mel­ons har­vested from a field in Kara Yar Vil­lage, Kash­gar Pre­fec­ture, north­west China’s Xin­jiang Uygur Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion

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