Land of milk and money
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.”