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Naan industrial park gives Uygur people a new start

By Cao Yin in Kashgar Source: Updated: 2020-09-21


Arzigul Yasin. [Photo provided to] 

Arzigul Yasin used to sell cosmetics until early this year, but now she spends time on promoting naan - the staple wheat bread of Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region - through livestreaming platforms.

In the first two months of this year when the COVID-19 epidemic broke out, Arzigul, from Uygur ethic group, stayed at home due to the travel restrictions, so she opened an account on Douyin, a popular Chinese short-video platform, just to kill time.

"I found many users on the platform promoting products, which surprised me. So I opened my own account to sell cosmetics," said the 30-year-old, who had a cosmetic shop in Jiashi county in southern Xinjiang's Kashgar prefecture.

However, the online cosmetic business did not turn out to be as profitable as she had hoped, so she began looking for a new business idea.

In April, when Arzigul heard that the county's naan industrial park was planning to hire livestreaming hosts to start its e-commerce business, she applied for the job and got accepted.

Different from her previous cosmetics business, her current job is promoting naan of various shapes and tastes. To do the job well, she needs to understand more about the food and their making process to meet consumers' expectations.

"Compared with cosmetics, I prefer selling naan, because it can bring me more money," she said. "Consumers use cosmetics for limited time after buying them, but naan's demand is much bigger, because local people eat the baked round flatbread with almost every meal every day."

Selling naan earned her more than 6,000 yuan ($887) in July. "I plan to continue working hard to introduce my hometown's special food to more consumers across the country," she said. "The harder I work, the better life my family and I will have."

Arzigul is not the only one benefiting from the naan industrial park that was established in November.

The life of Abduhayni Imam also got better after he was hired to make naan in December.

Prior to that, the 29-year-old Uygur man used to pick up cottons and lay bricks, but the income was unstable. "It was difficult for me to look after my mother and support my younger brother's middle school study," said the man, who became the breadwinner of the family after his father died in a traffic accident three years ago.

"I had to drop out of school due to poverty, so I don't want my brother to face the same situation," he said. Under the county government's program, Abduhayni was introduced to the industrial park to learn skills of naan making, and now he can earn about 3,500 yuan per month.

Like Abduhayni, some 700 people working for the industrial park come from poor families.

Looking into the future, Abduhayni is saving money for his marriage and hopes to see his brother go to college. "If the two dreams come true, I would be the happiest man," he said.