Northeast China is renowned for its abundant resources. For thousands of years, the black earth in this area absorbed nature’s quintessence.Being China’s important breadbasket, the northeastern region is a reliable source of corn, wheat, beans and other agricultural produces in the country. In the north part of China’s northeast, however, there was once a chunk of barren land, which got its nickname of Beidahuang, or the North Wasteland. Thanks to the tireless efforts of generations of workers in the last seven decades, this previous wasteland has become the breadbasket for China.
Beidahuang reaches the Xiao Hinggan Mountains in the north, the Three River Plain in the east, and the Songnen Plain in the west. The Xingkai Lake lies at its periphery, and the Wanda Mountain stretches across it. Heilongjiang River, Songhuajiang River, and Wusulijiang River meet here. Covering a total area of 55300 square kilometers, it has an average altitude of 54 meters above the sea. With a gradient of only 0.0001, it is one of the flattest places on earth.
The black earth here is full of organic matter and thus highly fertile. It is the most suitable place to grow the plants. Beidahuang locates in the black earth area of northeast China, one of the three black earth areas in the world. The black earth here can be as thick as one meter. People often praise Beidahuang for its fertility, joking that even a pair of chopsticks can sprout on the fertile black earth.
As early as tens of thousands of years ago, Chinese ancestors have been fishing, hunting, and planting in today’s Beidahuang area. The Chapter of North Wilderness in the Classic of Mountains and Rivers, written during the Warring State Era, depicts the geographical features of the vast land of China’s northeast where Beidahuang locates. The fertile land of Beidahuang, however, did not generate wealth and prosperity in history. On the contrary, it was once rife with rampant weeds, swamps, poisonous insects, and dangerous beasts. The winter season at Beidahuang is freezing and long. The temperature here is below the freezing point for two-thirds of a year. Its average annual temperature is 4.6℃. Temperature can drop to as low as 40℃ below zero in the winter season.
The development history of Beidahuang is full of painstaking efforts and sacrifice. In the 1950s, tens of thousands of PLA veterans, educated youth, and CPC cadres, responding to the call of the state, came to Beidahuang and dedicated themselves to defending and developing the border area. They and their offspring braved the barren land, weathered the ice and snow, drained out the swamps and endured immeasurable hardship. Thanks to their sacrifice, many state-owned modern farms emerged on this former wasteland. Beidahuang, once a place people rarely set feet on, is now the beautiful and bountiful breadbasket of China.
Today, Beidahuang has more than 43 million mus of agricultural land, which produces over 20 billion kilograms of grains each year. It contributes one-quarter of the total cereal the country purchases each year. In the early days, people toiled the field manually. They used small pots to contain the pesticides and wielded the sickles to reap their crops. Now, Beidahuang has realized the mechanization and informationalizationof agriculture. It is one of the places in China that enjoy the highest level of agricultural modernization.
Making use of nature for survival and development purposes is the eternal theme in human civilization. The courage and stories of trailblazers have long been extolled by people of all cultures, both in the past and today. The development history of Beidahuang is full of touching stories. The whole country is amazed by the hard work, pioneering spirit, serving-the-country mentality and the sacrifice of the local people. Generations of Chinese got inspired by Beidahuang, which has become a special symbol in contemporary Chinese culture.