Dungans - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities . Most of the original refugees and settlers were farmers. They introduced the cultivation of rice to Central Asia, but they also cultivated wheat, barley, oats, corn, peas, lentils, flax, colza, millet, and sorghum. They grew such fruits and vegetables as watermelons, melons, cucumbers, pumpkins, potatoes, radishes, beetroot, cabbages, capsicums, eggplants, onions, and garlic. During those early days in Russia, some of the Dungans were in the carrier trade; some were carpenters, blacksmiths, silversmiths, or horse veterinarians; and some ran restaurants or small factories that processed linseed or colza oil, vermicelli made of pea flour, or sweets made from rice or millet. In short, they practiced the skills, such as repairing of chinaware, that they had practiced earlier in China. All this has changed since the creation of the collective farms after the Revolution. Now the main product of all the Dungan collective farms is sugar beets, along with some other vegetables, milk, and beef.

Division of Labor. Although some Dungans living in cities work as scholars at the Academy of Sciences in Frunze and a few are university lecturers, doctors, or artists, most live on the collective farms as farmers, mechanics, doctors, nurses, schoolteachers, librarians, pensioners, and children. (Out of 10,000 people on Druzhba, 2,200 work as collective farmers.)

Land Tenure. In the Soviet era, the collective farms belonged to the government, but each family had about one-quarter of a hectare of private land on which to keep sheep and cattle and grow vegetables for their own use. They also grew such products as garlic and tobacco for sale at the private markets. Druzhba had 5,130 hectares of land and owned 110 tractors, 48 modern combines, and 75 cars for public use. The main product of this collective farm was vegetables (10,000 tons per year). The collective farm also produced 2,000 tons of maize per year, 3,500 liters of milk, 530 tons of meat, 1 million eggs, and some wheat; it also sold onion and flax seeds. All products were sold to the state. The net profit (2,500 rubles in 1985) was used to build and maintain such facilities as clinics, schools, kindergartens, and the water-supply system. Many collective farmers, including teachers and people working in other professions, owned their houses: they could borrow the purchase price for ten to fifteen years. They could also borrow money to buy, for example, a cow. Today, privatization is rapidly altering the land-tenure system.

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