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Xinjiang woman hooks into success with fish breeding

chinadaily.com.cn| Updated: June 23, 2020


Workers feed cold-water fish at a breeding base on Kashi River in Nilka county, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. [Photo/Xinhua]

The hardest year for Bahzera Reshat was 2017. The wife of a Kazak herdsman in Karasu village in Nilka county, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, had to sell all of the family's sheep to save her father in law, who had stomach cancer.

"Even though the sheep were the only income of our family, we had to sell them. After that, we had nothing to herd and didn't know how we would live. My husband had to find a part-time job, but the small salary doesn't cover our daily cost," Bahzera said.

They were frustrated until one of their friends pointed them to a job at a local company that breeds cold-water species of fish.

"It was pretty weird to hear of a company breeding fish around here, because raising horses or sheep are the main traditional business in Nilka. But we had to give it a try, because we desperately needed the money," Bahzera said.

The company is Xinjiang Tianyu Co, which imports fish eggs, mainly rainbow trout, from Alaska and hatches them at a breeding base on the county's Kashi River.


Workers collect cold-water fish at a breeding base on Kashi River in Nilka county, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. [Photo/Xinhua]

The company, which was created in 2014, was still young at the end of 2016 when it decided to cooperate with the local government to help more local residents overcome poverty.

"I think as a local company it is our responsibility to join the poverty alleviation work in Nilka. We enjoy a unique advantage of natural resources here," said Zhang Xiu, the company's general manager.

In 2017, the young company not only began offering jobs but also established a subsidiary to which Tianyu contributed 51 percent of the investment, with the rest contributed by the residents.

"The locals borrowed 50,000 yuan ($7,100) from the bank at zero interest. Over a five-year period, they can earn as much as 3,000 to 4,000 yuan in dividends each year. If they want to quit after five years, they are free to leave with all of their principal. Or, if they want to continue, they will continue to receive dividends depending on the company's performance each year," Zhang said.

The subsidiary specializes in local poverty alleviation. Its main business is to pack and sell the cold-water fish bred at the base. In Karasu, 609 poor households borrowed money from the bank and invested in the subsidiary.


A view of the fish breeding base on Kashi River in Nilka county, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. [Photo/Xinhua] 

Bahzera's family was one of the investors from Karasu village. In September 2018, she also became one of the 110 local contract workers at Xinjiang Tianyu Co.

"I became a member of the breeding team, and my daily responsibility is to feed the fish — Monday to Friday, eight hours a day. Manager Zhang told me I am an industrial worker now. I do not really know what that means, but with over 3,000 yuan of salary each month and the whole weekend to take care of my family, I feel really good," Bahzera said.

Zhang added: "Most of my workers are like Bahzera. They used to be poor herdsman, but after working in my company they have stable incomes and time to have a better quality of life. I hope as the business grows, we will be able to offer more jobs."

Last year, Bahzera suggested her husband should work at the company on the security staff. Together, they earn more than 6,000 yuan per month.

"Last month, I bought a motorcycle, which cost me 4,000 yuan. I will shop online every month to buy things for my family. Those are not a big deal for me now," Bahzera said. "I hope my husband and I can earn more money and live like people in the city."