Machines are replacing hundreds of thousands of migrant workers picking cotton in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the biggest cotton production base in the country. At this time of year Xinjiang’s cotton growers would usually have started hiring workers to pick their cotton…Full Article: Xinhua Oct 2017

Key Points

  • According to the head of Caohu Village, Shanshan County, Xinjiang’s cotton-picking season generally runs ~45 days from October to November. A single cotton-picking machine can harvest 15 hectares per day. Approximately 116,000 hectares of cotton fields in Shawan County, north-central Xinjiang Region, have been harvested by cotton-picking machines. A cotton farmer in Shihezi County noted that he paid CNY 50,000 to 60,000 [~USD 8,500] to hire a cotton-picking machine to harvest 13,333 hectares. Typically, migrant works from the provinces Gansu, Sichuan and Henan help harvest cotton in Xinijang Region.
  • In 2016, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Xinjiang Region produced 3.59 million MTs of cotton, or 67.3% of China’s total output. In 2015, this production percentage was 62.5%.

ChinaAg Comments

  • In January 2017, Xinjiang Region announced plans to create more than 100,000 new textile jobs (i.e. clothing manufacturing) during the year.
  • In 2016, approximately 112,300 new workers (~50% of new industrial employment) were reportedly hired/recruited into Xinjiang Region’s textile industry.
  • From January to May 2016, Xinjiang textile and garment exports to Russia/Central Asia increased 60% year-on-year. Approximately 70% of Chinese textile and garment exports via Xinjiang customs points were shipped to Kyrgyzstan (top share) and Kazakhstan (second largest share).
  • In June 2015, China’s State Council issued measures to promote Xinjiang’s textile and garment industry in order to boost local employment and exports.
  • In 2014, GM cotton was planted on approximately 3.9 million hectares, or roughly 93% of China’s total cotton planting area. Northern China’s Xinjiang Region is the country’s largest cotton grower, accounting for 46% (~1.9 million ha) of cotton farmland and an impressive 60% (3.6 million metric tons) cotton output in 2014. During that year, thanks in part to improved GM cotton yields, Chinese cotton reserves reached 11 million MTs, equal to roughly half of global cotton trade volumes.
  • In September 2014, the Chinese government stated it plans to raise the number of those employed in Xinjiang’s cotton industry from 200,000 to 1 million by 2020.
  • In July 2014, Xinjiang announced plans to spend approximately CNY 20 billion yuan ($3.2 billion) on boosting the textile industry in the southwestern Xinjiang city of Aksu (near Kyrgyzstan).
  • In November 2013, it was reported that Xinjiang Region intended to mechanize 80% of its cotton harvesting by 2015
  • From 2012 to 2013, China’s cotton output declined from 6.8 million MTs to 6.2 million MTs. In 2013, Xinjiang accounted 56% or 3.5 million MTs of Chinese cotton production. The next largest producer was Shandong which accounted for 10% (620,961 MTs of output).
  • Established in 1954 and headquartered in Ürümqi, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC, aka Bingtuan) is a quasi-governmental organization that accounts for approximately 30% of China’s cotton output. Initially given a mandate by Mao Zedong to develop and garrison China’s frontiers in the far west, the XPCC has emerged as the country’s leading cotton producers. The XPCC has Xinjiang cotton operations in the cities of Aral, Tiemenguan City, Tumxuk, and Shuanghe.

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