First batch of cotton pickers arrive in Xinjiang 2009-08-20 23:25:34   Print

    URUMQI, Aug. 20 (Xinhua) -- The first batch of migrant workers has arrived in China's far western Xinjiang to earn extra income in the country's major cotton producing region, when the deadly July 5 riot has subsided.

    Xinjiang will need almost a million cotton pickers during the two-month harvest period through November as many cotton fields are in sparsely-populated areas.

    The majority of the workers, mostly women, are from Gansu, Qinghai and Ningxia, also in the far west, and China's most populous province of Henan in the central region.

    This year Xinjiang grows 1.53 million hectares of cotton and is predicting 2.7 million tonnes of output, about one third of the country's total.

    About 1,600 farmers from Henan arrived in their destinations in Xinjiang from late Wednesday to early Thursday.

    About 100 trains of workers will arrive in Xinjiang through mid September.

    Many cotton growers have a lingering fear for the violence, which left 197 people dead.

    "In half a month after the violence, there was a huge shortage of tomato pickers. Many migrant workers didn't dare to come here," said Wang Wei, an official with the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps. "

    "But now the workers contact us and ask if we need any labor for cotton picking," he added.

    Sun Zhiqiang, another Xinjiang production Corps. official, said the pickers could earn 100 yuan (14.6 U.S. dollars) a day on average and 4,000 yuan to 5,000 yuan during the two months.

    The Corps. alone plans to employ 500,000 cotton pickers this year, including 200,000 from Xinjiang and 300,000 beyond Xinjiang, according to Li Jianjun, a Corps' labor and social security official.

    The number is about 17 percent smaller than last year's 600,000,Li told Xinhua.

    Li said the decrease resulted from smaller acreage of cotton and more use of cotton picking machinery, rather than the July 5 violence.

    "It's my first trip here, but I'm not afraid," said Yang Xiaoxue, 19, a worker from Xinxiang, Henan.

    Peng Mei, from Henan's Yuanyang, shared her country fellow's viewpoint.

    "My family had worries after the Urumqi riot. But we'll care about each other in groups and I won't worry about my safety here," Peng said.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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