An Uzbek migrant worker milking cows in a barn on the Kulu farm. The farm employs Uzbeks who migrate to Russia to work there for several months at a time sending part of their wages back home to their families.
Kulu is a former sovkhoz (Soviet-era state-owned farm) established in 1970s to provide dairy products and vegetables for mining towns located in the area. After the fall of the USSR its non-profitability lead to its closure in the 2000s. However, Andrey Poltoratsky, an entrepreneur, took on about 30 hectares of the former sovkhoz through the Far East Hectare program with hopes of bringing the place back to life. It now has a dairy farm with 36 cows, as well as a flock of egg-laying chickens. There are five greenhouses where cucumbers and tomatoes produce two harvests a year and the farm's output is sold in nearby cities.
The free hectare program, launched in 2016, enables people to apply for free tracts of land in the under developed Russian Far East. They must present a project to a development ministry and if their activity seems viable, they are given free plots and if successfully run then they officially become the land owners and can bequeath it to their children or resell the land.