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Tibet grass plantation to improve livelihoods

By DAQIONG and PALDEN NYIMA in Lhasa | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-09-04 07:07
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A major grass plantation in Lhaze county, Shigatse of the Tibet autonomous region is set to contribute to ecological conservation and improve livelihoods, experts said.

Since 2016, the China Environmental Protection Foundation and the Jala Group have been planting grass in Tibet's cities of Shigatse and Nyingchi, with the area of grass having expanded to more than 370 hectares so far, Chinese financial media outlet Yicai reported.

Dechen Yudron, head of Lhaze county's Shichen township, where the project is underway, said her township had 156 households and more than 600 residents involved in the project.

"More than 66 hectares of the public field in the township's Gangshi village is used for grass planting, and we expect the income of each household will exceed more than 1,000 yuan ($155) after harvesting in mid-October," said Dechen Yudron.

"The grass planting project in our city has been going for five years. It is the first time the project has been implemented in our township this year," she said.

The grass provides forage and fertilizer, and will improve soil stability.

"The planting begins in spring, and the harvest lasts until October, which provides enough time to help desertification control, and soil and water conservation," she said.

According to Dechen Yudron, the latest project is in Gangshi village because the village is a semi-herding one, where villagers engage in farming and herding yaks, cows and sheep.

"The villagers have their own land for grazing, but they encounter difficulties with grass shortage in winter and spring, and most villagers have to buy straw," she said.

Grass cooperative

Dechen Yudron said the regional government encourages most villages to start up cooperative businesses. While most nearby villages operate livestock-breeding cooperatives, Gangshi village undertook a grass plantation.

Dechen Yudron also believes that the project helps fight desertification and soil erosion.

Developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the wheat planted in the Gangshi village is cold and drought tolerant, as well as fast growing. It has a strong root system, can grow two to three meters high, with an average yield of 15 metric tons per hectare.

Tashi is a villager of Gangshi, whose family raises nine cows and 30 sheep on four hectares of grassland.

"It was beyond my imagination that grass so tall could be planted where the average altitude is higher than 4,000 meters," Yicai quoted Tashi as saying.

Tanba Tsering, Party secretary of Gangshi village, said that the village provides wasteland for the grass projects, and all the other expenses, including for plowing, planting and management are covered by project funders.

"All the planted grass is owned by the villagers who are part of the grass plantation cooperative. Each invested 100 yuan and part of their land into the business," said Tanba Tsering.

He said stakeholders will have enough straw in the winter, saving each household at least 1,300 yuan to 2,000 yuan a year on straw.

In June, the regional government tested aerial drones for seeding, including both grass and tree seeds in nine counties and districts of the region's four major cities-Lhasa, Shigatse, Lhokha and Nyingchi.

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