Xinjiang farmers get a lift from Anhui

Eight trucks loaded with 240 metric tons of dates and walnuts from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region arrived on Friday in Hefei, Anhui province.

The products will be sold in the province, officials said at a brief handover ceremony.

"This is expected to ease the burden of farmers in Xinjiang's Pishan county, after the COVID-19 pandemic stagnated sales of local products — fruits in particular," said Wang Yongmei, executive of Xinjiang Fruit, a company that buys from the county's farmers.

"The products arriving today are the first batch and will be followed by more, which will arrive every two days," said Hu Kouzhu, deputy mayor of Pishan.

Hu said most of the locally produced fruit was exported overseas in the past, but international trade has been suspended because of the pandemic.

"If we don't cope with the sale difficulties, the farmers will take tremendous losses, as a new harvest season is coming in three months," Hu said.

More than 40 Anhui officials working as a team in Pishan have been trying to help. Efforts include the introduction of e-commerce companies to the county, Hu said.

He said Anhui has so far helped Pishan to sell 320 million yuan ($44.75 million) worth of dates, walnuts and livestock products since the outbreak of the pandemic.

"Anhui takes responsibility to help the farmers having difficulty partly because the province has been paired up with the county for the latter's development for more than 10 years," Hu said.

Zhao Xiang, manager of a general sales firm in Anhui, a produce agent, said many orders have been received from the local government and State-owned enterprises.

He said the products will be available online and offline for ordinary consumers soon.