Greenhouses help grow family incomes
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.
Pema Yangjen, 40, checks eggplants in her greenhouse farm in Lhundrub county, Tibet autonomous region.