Land of milk and money

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By PALDEN NY­IMA and PHUNTSOG TASHI in Lhasa

An in­no­va­tive dairy project is help­ing to raise Ti­betan fam­i­lies out of poverty.

Res­i­dents in Gyadrong, a small town with 259 house­holds, have been col­lec­tively run­ning its cat­tle feed­ing and milk­ing cen­ter since 2013.

Lhun­drub county gov­ern­ment and its poverty al­le­vi­a­tion of­fice in­vested 3 mil­lion yuan ($489,000) to start the project and pur­chase 312 head of cat­tle.

“The im­pov­er­ished fam­i­lies ( of Gyadrong) were cho­sen to be the di­rect ben­e­fi­cia­ries,” said Yon­tan, direc­tor of the county’s science and tech­nol­ogy bureau and head of the lo­cal an­i­mal hus­bandry and ve­teri­nary sta­tion. “The gov­ern­ment aimed to lift th­ese res­i­dents out of poverty.”

While most peo­ple work in teams to run the cen­ter, eight res­i­dents were cho­sen as cowherds. One of them is Losang Drakpa, 31. He works 12 hours a day on av­er­age, and his du­ties in­clude trans­port­ing fod­der, feed­ing the cat­tle and clean­ing out the cow­shed.

“I have been here for 16 months, and I’m very pleased to work in a place close to my home,” he said.

His fam­ily owns a cow, and like most of the cat­tle at the cen­ter it pro­duces an av­er­age of 15 liters of milk a day. He said his fam­ily earned more than 10,000 yuan from the project last year, while oth­ers made more than 20,000 yuan.

Yon­tan said the res­i­dents do not have any prob­lems sell­ing the milk, as they have signed a long-term con­tract with a large dairy com­pany in Lhasa, cap­i­tal of the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

“An av­er­age salary of 2,000 yuan is paid to each cowherd, and our ac­com­mo­da­tions and food are pro­vided by the cen­ter,” Losang Drakpa said. “This job is more com­fort­able, safer and more en­joy­able than work­ing on a con­struc­tion site.”

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