By Yang Yan, Dong Hongfei, and Liu Xiaodong
April is a rejuvenating and promising season. In the camp of the Shipki frontier defense company of the Ali Military Sub-Command under the PLA Nanjiang Military Command, a flock of special little creatures – the chicks hatched out.
Shipki in the hinterland of the Himalayas means "a place where the sun finally sets" in Tibetan. The Shipki frontier defense company, stationed at an altitude of over 2,900 m, is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and nearly 300 km away from the nearest county seat. During the half-year-long wintertime when the mountains are frozen and covered by ice and snow, the company is literally an "islet in a land of snow" without access to the outside world, which means the suspension of fresh food supply.
To solve the problem, the soldiers have built a chicken shed to raise poultry on their own. "It ensures our fresh chicken and eggs supply, in addition, raising the chicks adds a lot of fun to our monotonous daily life," said Zeng Yougang, the company commander.
Stationed at a relatively low altitude with a sufficient light supply, the company has taken this advantage to build an ecological park in the camp area of the company. "It used to be a wasteland covered with piles of stone riprap, the officers and men moved the stones away and opened up a few vegetable fields and an orchard," said Zhao Xiangnan, the political instructor of the company.
At the end of last year, Liu Tao, a soldier, came back from his vacation and brought some homegrown dragon fruit saplings. These saplings have grown well in the greenhouse under good care. From then on, more and more service members have brought back saplings of mango and grapefruit, etc. from their hometowns when returning from vacation. The fruit trees have been enriched in variety in the ecological park. As of now, more than 200 fruit trees have been planted in the ecological park.
In 2019, the Logistics Department of the PLA Army rolled out the construction of "plant factories" in border defense troops under the Xinjiang Military Command and Xizang Military Command. By strengthening cooperation with agricultural research institutions and local enterprises, border defense units introduced new technologies such as biotechnology, photoelectric technology and low-carbon technology to build "plant factories" to expand the scale and variety of vegetable planting. The Shipki frontier defense company built a "plant factory" on the basis of the orchard at the end of last year. With soilless cultivation technology, the cycle of vegetable growth has been greatly shortened in the "plant factory". Today, the fresh vegetables can be seen in the dishes of the company every day, and the days when it was difficult to have fresh vegetables in winter are gone forever.
Zhang Min, Sergeant First Class of the Shipki frontier defense company, said, "I have been stationed here for 16 years. Guarding the snow-capped mountains and looking at the greenery, although limited in scale, the greenery still makes us feel that the border is no longer desolate. We are full of strength in heart."