By Jiang Yunlong, People’s Daily

Agriculture enjoys a long history in Kizilsu Kirgiz autonomous prefecture, a prefecture that boasts abundant sunlight in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Now, agriculture in the autonomous prefecture is becoming modernized and more and more driven by technology.

Last year, the autonomous prefecture’s capital Artux planted 271,600 mu (18,107 hectares) of food crops and built 30,900 mu of high-standard farmland, with a yield of 126,000 tons. Besides, Artux also established an autonomous region-level agricultural technology park.

Given the remarkable performance, it’s hard to imagine that Artux is home to nearly 3,773 square kilometers of desert that covers 24.7 percent of its total area.

Ahu township, located in the northwest of Artux, has built a 1,180-mu agricultural park on desert. Over the past 10 years, 346 greenhouses have been established in the facility agriculture base, where over 20 types of fruits and vegetables are grown.

Outside these greenhouses, there is vast desert swept by heavy winds. However, inside of them, warm and humid air is nurturing the greenness. Real-time videos are shown on big screens in the greenhouses so that farmers can get better knowledge of the growth of crops.

“I used to live on the desert. There was hardly any place for us to grow crops. The production of wheat and medicago we grew often shrank due to water shortage and heavy winds. We could earn 20,000 yuan ($2,784) at most a year,” said Harila Hasan, who was relocated to Ahu township and has contracted two greenhouses in the facility agriculture base.

It’s different to grow crops in the greenhouses, which needs skills, Harila Hasan told People’s Daily. But the yield is stable and it generates higher income, he added.

Harila Hasan’s wife is currently growing vegetables in the greenhouses he contracts, and the man himself works part-time jobs in surrounding areas. According to him, the couple makes more than 80,000 yuan a year now, which has significantly improved their living standard.

The greenhouses in Ahu township were built with capital aided by Shenyang, northeast China’s Liaoning province. Each household relocated to the township is eligible to contract one greenhouse or more.

“The yearly rent of a greenhouse is only 1,000 yuan. The township government has dispatched nine cadres to the facility agriculture base to teach farmers planting skills and help them solve farming problems they meet,” said Tan Yangguang, deputy head of Ahu township.

“Scarce water and farmland resources, as well as heavy winds are challenges faced by local agriculture,” said an official with the bureau of agriculture and rural affairs of Artux.

He told People’s Daily that the city has steadfastly developed facility agriculture over the recent years and built many modern agricultural parks. The city is home to 857 modern greenhouses that cover a total area of 3,000 mu, including 22 intelligent ones.

These greenhouses have tackled the challenges of scarce water and farmland resources, as well as heavy winds, becoming an effective tool for local farmers to increase their income.

The newest greenhouse in the facility agriculture base in Ahu township is managed by Zhao Shaowei, who runs a Xinjiang-based agricultural technology company. Different from other greenhouses, this one is much bigger. It’s not built with plastic films and red bricks, but glass and steel.

The 10,000-square meter green house was built in May 2022 with 15 million yuan aided by Kunshan, east China’s Jiangsu province and 6 million yuan raised by Zhao’s company.

The high-standard intelligent greenhouse is expected to provide seedlings for the rest 345 greenhouses in the facility agriculture base and drive technological upgrade among them.

Zhao can control the fans, cameras, sprayers and faucets in the greenhouse on a mobile phone or a computer.

“We have established a high-standard intelligent vegetable and fruit seedling system, which comes with 120 seedbeds and is able to cultivate 800,000 to a million seedlings. The seedbeds and sprayers are automatic, and lighting and humidity can be controlled with a mobile phone. The greenhouse provides 600,000 vegetable, fruit and flower seedlings for other greenhouses a year,” Zhao said.

According to him, the seedlings his company provides for other greenhouses is 10 to 15 percent cheaper than the market price.

The intelligent glass greenhouse is a center for the promotion of agricultural technologies in the facility agriculture base, which offers training for farmers in the base and agricultural students and workers in the entire township, said deputy Party head of Ahu township Guo Yanwu.

Focusing on the intelligent glass greenhouse, the base will work to reinforce its whole-industrial chain operation from seedling to sales, so as to blaze a new trail of high-quality development for local facility agriculture, Guo noted.


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