Where yaks roam and pineap­ples grow

China Daily (Canada) - - TIBET - By ERIK NILS­SON erik_nils­son@chi­nadaily.com. cn

Yak burg­ers are a sign of in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion, and a lot more sug­gests that Ti­bet is open­ing up even as it pro­tects its en­vi­ron­ment.

Think of the Ti­bet au­ton­o­mous re­gion and na­ture, and the pop­u­lar imag­i­na­tion quickly sees yaks. Few would think of this place as pineap­ple coun­try, but that is ex­actly what it is. Not only that, but other trop­i­cal fruits – such as man­goes, bananas and durian – are be­ing grown, and that is be­ing done or­gan­i­cally.

Green­house tech­nol­ogy en­ables the Zhizhao Pure Land agritech demon­stra­tion cen­ter in Lhasa to pro­duce 60 trop­i­cal crops, the dis­trict says, in­clud­ing palm, rub­ber trees, bottle co­conuts and or­chids.

The pi­lot project ex­hibits in­no­va­tive, green growth.

That said, a joke points to the somber re­al­i­ties of food pro­duc­tion else­where on the Qing­hai-Ti­bet Plateau.

A city slicker is driv­ing across the grass­land when he crashes into a yak on the road, to­tal­ing his car and killing the yak. He con­fronts the nomad. “Why did you lead your yak onto the road? There’s no grass there.”

As quick as a flash the herder replies: “Why did you drive over my yak? There’s no road seal on it.”

That gag puts a hu­mor­ous spin on con­cerns about parched prairies.

In the light of the de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion that cli­mate change is bring­ing us, the joke raises very se­ri­ous ques­tions about Ti­bet’s fu­ture, ones that were raised at the 2016 Fo­rum on the De­vel­op­ment of Ti­bet on July 7 and 8. The event ex­am­ined in­no­va­tion, co­or­di­na­tion, green­ing, open­ness and shared de­vel­op­ment.

The joke points to more than sim­ply the col­li­sion be­tween city and ru­ral liv­ing; it also points to con­cerns about van­ish­ing grass­lands.

In­deed, the fo­rum was an op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss pos­si­ble so­lu­tions, such as agri­cul­tural tech­nol­ogy, to the de­vel­op­ment prob­lems that Ti­bet faces.

As for those yaks, the re­gion is so syn­ony­mous with them and are so om­nipresent that the In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal ho­tel in Lhasa even serves Yak burg­ers.

While trop­i­cal pro­duce defies the Shangri-La stereo­type, it is not less real than yaks.

On the other hand, Yak burg­ers are a sign of in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion, and a lot more sug­gests that Ti­bet is open­ing up even as it pro­tects its en­vi­ron­ment.

In the 2016 Lhasa Con­sen­sus, signed by the State Coun­cil’s In­for­ma­tion Of­fice, Ti­bet’s re­gional gov­ern­ment, Lhasa’s lead­ers and fo­rum par­tic­i­pants adopted pro­pos­als put for­ward by more than 100 ex­perts from more than 30 coun­tries.

I even got to move an amend­ment about cli­mat­e­change mit­i­ga­tion and it made the cut.

Ti­bet gen­er­ates vir­tu­ally no green­house gases, yet bears some of their fiercest con­se­quences.

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