Sichuan ad­dresses poverty in Ti­betan pre­fec­ture

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - By LI YANG in Ganzi Ti­betan au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture, Sichuan liyang@chi­na­di­aly.com.cn

Sichuan prov­ince is pledg­ing to lift 5 mil­lion res­i­dents liv­ing on less than $1.25 a day out of poverty by 2020 by re­plac­ing direct as­sis­tance with a loan pro­gram to help vil­lagers in the re­mote moun­tains and no­mads on the grass­lands start their own busi­nesses.

The provin­cial author­ity im­ple­mented the new fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance pro­gram in July 2014, cre­at­ing a spe­cial fund that serves as col­lat­eral for in­ter­est-free and low-in­ter­est loans. Town­ship gov­ern­ments are re­spon­si­ble for help­ing bor­row­ers choose ap­pro­pri­ate busi­nesses.

Daocheng county, in the prov­ince’s Ganzi Ti­betan au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture, has snow-capped moun­tains and plateau grass­lands. Tourists have be­gun vis­it­ing its re­mote vil­lages in greater num­bers over the past decade, cre­at­ing new op­por­tu­ni­ties.

In the county’s Yad­ing vil­lage, 150 res­i­dents once faced acute poverty, and it was jok­ingly dubbed a place where even hares were re­luc­tant to set­tle. But that’s chang­ing.

“Many of the male vil­lagers re­mained sin­gle all their lives, be­cause few women would marry and move to the des­ti­tute vil­lage,” said Gel­dol, 50, a Ti­betan fam­ily inn owner in Ren­cun vil­lage near Yad­ing.

Now Yad­ing vil­lage is the most pros­per­ous place in the county, Gel­dol said, and a fam­ily can make about 300,000 yuan ($50,000) a year from hous­ing rentals alone. The town­ship gov­ern­ment helped Gel­dol ob­tain a 500,000 yuan in­ter­est-free loan in 2003 as part of an ear­lier pi­lot loan project. He built a 44-room, four-story ho­tel.

“I paid off the loan in three years, and rented the build­ing to pro­fes­sional ho­tel man­agers 10 years ago,” Gel­dol said.

Zeng Guanhe, head of Daocheng county, which counts tourism and wild mush­room pro­cess­ing among its main in­dus­tries, said the gov­ern­ment also is chang­ing the mech­a­nism by which it judges the no­mads’ fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tions. Cur­rently, it con­sid­ers the num­ber of yaks they own.

“We will is­sue the farm­ers and no­mads own­er­ship cer­tifi­cates for their grass­land, forests and houses. They can soon mort­gage th­ese prop­er­ties to the banks,” Zeng said.

Gala town in Ya­jiang county, cited as an­other suc­cess story, has one of the largest agri­cul­tural co­op­er­a­tives in Ganzi, pro­duc­ing tons of mat­su­take mush­rooms, plateau pigs and herbal medicine. More than 200 fam­i­lies take part in the co-op, which re­ceives a direct gov­ern­ment sub­sidy and low-in­ter­est bank loans, co-op man­ager Phu­jadrup said.

LIU JIAO / FOR CHINA DAILY

Res­i­dents in Daocheng county, Ganzi Ti­betan au­ton­o­mous pre­fec­ture, in Sichuan prov­ince con­sider tourism one of the ma­jor in­dus­tries to help the area shake off poverty.

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