Mixed farming enriches Xinjiang farmers

For Wu Qingshan, a farmer in Burqin County in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, a combination of growing sea buckthorn and raising chicken is the secret to wealth.

Mixed farming enriches Xinjiang farmers

Wu has about 47 hectares of sea buckthorn, a shrub whose fruit is known for its richness in vitamin C. The land also serves as his open-air “chicken farm.”

“Growing up eating sea buckthorn and worms in the field, the chicken that I raise are more delicious and nutritious than regular ones,” Wu said.

“Each of my “sea buckthorn chicken” can be sold for more than 100 yuan (14.6 U.S. dollars), which is about 30 percent higher than regular ones.”

The concept of mixed farming, which involves growing crops and raising livestock, was new to Wu before the county government promoted it from 2011.

With the help of technicians sent by the government, he started to combine the planting of sea buckthorn and raising chicken in 2017.

“More than 90 percent of about 4,000 chickens that I have raised this year have been sold through e-commerce platforms,” he said. “The system of mixed farming helps increase my annual income by one-sixth.”

Li Zhengxin, another farmer in the county, sees the potential of mixed farming in agritourism.

He builds an orchard of sea buckthorn for tourists where they can pick and cook with the fruit and chicken.

“I can earn more than 500,000 yuan a year by managing the industry of agri-tourism,” Li said.

Burqin County invested about 1 million yuan to promote mixed farming featuring the planting of sea buckthorn and raising of chicken in 2018.

The county has broad areas that are suitable for sea buckthorn and other crops, which is a natural advantage for developing mixed farming, said Wang Gangyi, head of the forestry bureau of Burqin County.

The county has more than 1,000 hectares of plant area for mixed farming.

There is great potential in the land thanks to the new type of farming, said Li, who hopes to expand the scale of mixed farming in the future.