Green­houses help grow fam­ily in­comes

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By PALDEN NY­IMA in Lhasa, Ti­bet

Ti­betan no­mads, who live at high al­ti­tudes, tra­di­tion­ally have a high-fat diet and con­sider a plate of veg­eta­bles as ap­pe­tiz­ing as a field of grass. Ipso facto, high blood pres­sure and di­a­betes have been com­mon ill­nesses among com­mu­ni­ties on the plateau.

Yet cli­mate change and so­cial devel­op­ment has brought about a change in habits. In ru­ral parts of the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion, res­i­dents are now build­ing green­houses to grow veg­eta­bles for the din­ner ta­ble.

Pema Yang­jen, a Ti­betan house­wife in Lhun­drub county, said her three square meals all fea­ture a healthy help­ing of greens.

“In the past, we only had tsamba (roasted bar­ley flour mixed with but­ter and cheese) in the morn­ing. Nowa­days we can’t do with­out veg­eta­bles,” the 40-year-old said, adding that even older gen­er­a­tions have changed their diet.

The gov­ern­ment has been en­cour­ag­ing farm­ers to build green­houses as part of ef­forts to im­prove con­di­tions in the coun­try­side.

Tsangkha vil­lage has 80 house­holds, and Pema Yang­jen’s fam­ily is one of three that op­er­ate green­houses. “The gov­ern­ment pro­vided the green­house. We only had to pay 45 yuan ($7) for each hectare of land,” she said.

Ac­cord­ing to vil­lagers, 45 yuan is a dis­counted price. For out­siders, it costs more than 90 yuan.

Other than pro­vid­ing more healthy op­tions for the din­ner ta­ble, the green­houses are a new source of in­come for Ti­betan house­holds.

Pema Yang­jen used to work the fields and had some tem­po­rary odd jobs, con­tribut­ing to an an­nual fam­ily in­come of about 4,000 yuan. How­ever, in the past three years that amount has dou­bled, she said.

As a mat­ter of con­science, she said, vil­lagers in Tsangkha grow or­ganic veg­eta­bles, which has at­tracted cus­tomers from other pre­fec­tures.

Along with three em­ploy­ees, she now grows more than 15 kinds of veg­eta­bles in two green­houses and has plans to fur­ther ex­pand her busi­ness.

“We’re very happy to have green veg­eta­bles in our life,” she added.

ZHU XINGXIN / CHINA DAILY

Pema Yang­jen, 40, checks egg­plants in her green­house farm in Lhun­drub county, Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

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