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Agriculture gets a tech injection

Tibet’s agricultural sector is now the smallest part of the economy, but that does not mean it cannot be more efficient and lucrative for farmers. Technology is doing just that.

At 4,000 metres average altitude, the roof of the world does not offer ideal farming conditions. Technology comes to the rescue.

These cows breathe fresh mountain air, drink from the streams nearby; manure turns into fertilizer for the hothouses nearby, the question is - do they get altitude sickness?

This is Tibet’s largest dairy farm and breeding center. Nearby greenhouses grow hydroponic vegetables and fruits. Fully modernized equipment means higher quality products and it trains up locals in operating sophisticated machinery.

Production at the one year old plant is expected to more than double next year. 160 kilometers out of Lhasa, in Dangxiong is yak country. Yak meat is to Tibet what beef is to Australia.

Behind me you see just some of Tibet’s 5 million yak population. By joining yak feeding cooperatives, it lifts meat output and therefore yak farmers’ incomes by up to 40 percent.

Herders like Qimei Ciren pay one yuan a day for each of their yaks to feed at the cooperative, in preparation for the long winter.

“The major concerns are limited feeding range and blizzards, we hope the government can continue to support with feedstock, everyone wants to sign up to the cooperative,” said Qimei Ciren, herder.

Over in Linzhou the local industry is sheep farming. Artificial insemination with Australian Merino stock means the animals yield more meat and better wool.

“In the past, we only had seven lambs and annual income 200 yuan, now each person has 10,000 yuan income. We’re not allowed to keep more than 200 sheep per household because we need to protect the vegetation,” said Gesang Dawa, sheep farmer.

Tibet’s agricultural sector may only make up 10 percent of the economy, but with technology helping to offset the climate challenges, it can be small, green and beautiful.