Marigold business has helped transform fortunes in Shache, the most populous county in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The planting area of marigolds in Shache, one of the 10 counties in Xinjiang yet to eliminate poverty, has reached around 8,667 hectares since 2011 when the flower was introduced to adjust the structure of local agricultural industries.
Shache has established 70 cooperatives for growing seedlings and purchasing materials, providing permanent jobs to more than 3,000. Over 70,000 local residents are engaged in marigold-related industries, nearly half of them from poor households.
To support poor growers, the county government offered free seedlings and fertilizers.
“My marigolds are growing well this year. The harvest season can last from June to the end of October. My village involved idle laborers to help harvest the flowers,” said Abduheli Ablikim, a villager of Shache County.
With a high survival rate compared to traditional cash crops, marigolds are easier to plant. The flowers, which contain lutein, are widely used in food and medicine. “It offers more economic benefits than cotton and wheat,” said Zhu Yubao, Party chief of Yengiostang Township.
Besides Shache, surrounding counties such as Zepu, Makit and Bachu have also planted marigolds on 2,000 hectares, helping locals shake off poverty.
From 2014 to 2019, more than 2.92 million people shook off poverty in Xinjiang. By the end of 2020, poverty will be completely eliminated in the autonomous region.