Across China: The shifting sands of camel raising in Xinjiang county
URUMQI, Dec. 9 (Xinhua) -- Arkhu Alph, a herdsman in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, spent 200,000 yuan (about 31,500 U.S. dollars) to prepare fodder for his 46 camels before winter. The animals live in a cozy barn, rather than carrying heavy goods in the desert as they used to.
"They are all female camels, and each of them produces up to 3 kg of milk every day," said the 39-year-old, who can earn more than 1 million yuan per year selling camel milk.
Yet Arkhu Alph's wealth was not built in a day.
In 2007, Xinjiang Wang Yuan Biotechnology Group was established in Fuhai County, and the local camel industry started to thrive.
The company bought camel milk from local herdsmen to make diverse camel milk products, which have been exported abroad.
However, camels used to be seen solely as a means of transport by local herdsmen.
Although the company had mastered camel milk processing technology, it lacked camel milk, while herders either did not have the money to buy more camels or were worried about selling the milk.
To encourage herdsmen to raise camels, the company decided to provide them with interest-free loans and sign agreements with herdsmen to purchase their camel milk.
With the help of the company, Arkhu Alph and his wife embarked on a new journey raising camels 10 years ago.
Since many herdsmen's grazing lands are remote, the company also sends refrigerated trucks to collect their camel milk, and conducts research and development of professional milking machines to help herdsmen improve their efficiency.
High-performing herdsmen have been provided with frequent professional training, which brings opportunities to visit big cities.
As camel milk sells well in domestic and overseas markets, the cooperative relationship between the company and herdsmen is a stable one. So far, about 5,200 households of herdsmen provide camel milk for the company, many of them living outside Fuhai County.
The role of camels has undergone great changes from a means of transport to a steady stream of income. Fuhai County plans to build new camel raising bases to increase the number of camels in the county to 50,000 from over 20,000, according to the county government.
The company is also expanding its industrial chain and exploring new products such as camel milk soap, masks, camel wool quilts and scarfs. Enditem