Xinjiang’s poverty alleviation programs yield tangible results
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.
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.
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