"Green silk road," with cotton on the way

Zhou Liang Fei Liena
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, January 20, 2017

by Zhou Liang, Fei Liena

DUSHANBE, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) -- At the suburb of the freezing cold city of Kurgan-Tyube in Tajikistan's southern Khatlon state, the sweeping lands of a cotton plantation stretch long. With the harvest already finished in Autumn, countless empty cotton branches tremble in the cold wind.

At a modern textile mill in the Tajik city of Dangara, spinning machines were humming and spinning, spitting out high-quality yarn to be shipped to various countries including Russia, Turkey, Italy and Poland. The mill and the cotton plantation were both invested and set up by China's Xinjiang Zhongtai Group.

In 2014, to answer the call of China's Belt and Road Initiative and Go Out policy, China's Zhongtai Group and Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, with strong support from the Tajik government, jointly started the construction of the Zhongtai New Silk Road Agriculture and Textile Industrial Park in Tajikistan's Dangara Basin.

The Chinese and Tajik sides wish to build a modern base for the cotton industry to develop local cotton production and processing by making use of Xinjiang's advantages in cotton growing and spinning technologies and Tajikistan's advantages in environment, weather, market and human resources.

In just three years, the industrial park has turned from a blueprint into reality. Three Chinese agricultural and textile companies have entered the park, bringing a total investment of 1.1 billion RMB (160 million U.S. dollars) and a whole industry chain of cotton plantation, processing and selling.

Zhongtai Textile Mill chairman Xiao Ruixin told Xinhua that Tajikistan's Dangara Basin enjoys a big temperature difference between day and night, thus local cotton boasts a high quality of thin fiber, high strength and a low sugar degree. However, due to lagging plantation technologies and aging agricultural machinery, local cotton growing largely relies on nature with a very low production.

Chinese companies, on the other hand, possess advanced cotton growing technologies, delicate textile processing skills and rich capital, Xiao said. To supplement each other's advantages, China's Zhongtai Group decided to build a textile industrial park in Tajikistan's Dangara Basin.

The Tajik government has been earnestly supporting the project from the very beginning. It offers two Chinese agricultural companies 14,667 hectares and 12,000 hectares of free land to plant cotton respectively. Thanks to the Chinese companies' advanced planting techniques, local cotton production has greatly increased.

Seeing this, many local farmers have shifted to cotton growing on their land with the help of the Chinese companies. As a result, their income has greatly increased as well.

At Zhongtai Ginning Factory, a local cotton grower was holding a thick stack of money with a big smile. He had just sold his cotton to the Chinese factory and got money immediately.

At Zhongtai Textile Mill not far away from the ginnery, wheels were busily spinning the ginned cotton into high-quality yarn. Last August, the spinning workshop with an annual capacity of 60,000 spindles of yarn was put into use. With Tajikistan's high-quality cotton and Zhongtai Textile Mill's advanced equipment, the fine yarn has been in high demand since its first production, and the supply has been falling short of demand.

According to Xiao, Zhongtai's factory design and main spinning equipment are most advanced in the world, upgrading Tajikistan's spinning techniques by 30 years.

In its following projects, Zhongtai Textile Mill is to build weaving, dyeing, and sewing workshops, bringing about 100 million RMB (14.5 million dollars) in taxes to the Tajik government annually and thousands of jobs to local people, Xiao said.

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