In recent years, with an improving industrial chain, the cotton industry in Xinjiang has undergone rapid development and become the dominant industry in the region.
Highly Mechanized Cotton Picking
Inside a production workshop of the Xinjiang branch of the China Railway Construction Heavy Industry Corporation Limited (CRCHI), workers are installing a 4MZ-6 intelligent cotton picker. This high-end mechanical cotton picker features strong power, high efficiency, safe operation, and easy-to-operate functions.
China is the world’s biggest cotton consumer and a big cotton producer. In 2020, its cotton output was about 5.95 million tons, of which Xinjiang produced 5.16 million tons, making up 87.3 percent of the total, according to data released by China Grain Reserves Group. Xinjiang began to use machines to harvest cotton in 2000. Mechanization was popularized in 2010 as the country offered subsidies to purchases of agricultural machineries. From 2015, the demand for mechanical cotton pickers grew robustly.
“Mechanical cotton pickers are highly efficient,” said Song Lixin, Party secretary and executive director of the Xinjiang branch of CRCHI. “A standard cotton picker is more efficient and can pick the equivalent of the harvest by 1,200 workers in the same period of time,” he said. Efficiency means a reduction in costs. In the past, local growers needed to pay cotton pickers RMB 2 per kg. By contrast, the cost of mechanized cotton harvest is only around RMB 0.4 per kg.
According to Song, the company entered the high-end agricultural machinery market in 2018 and began to sell agricultural machinery and equipment in bulks in 2019, recording great success in terms of both sales volume and product performance. In the 2020 harvest season, the average harvesting area of each mechanical cotton picker sold by the company reached 747 hectares. At present, one out of three cotton pickers in Xinjiang is produced by CRCHI.
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