Granary of the southwestern region: Highland barley a plant of fortune for Tibetans

Source:Xinhua-Global Times Published: 2018/8/27 17:33:40

Growing at 1,000 meters above sea level on the Qinghai-Tibet plateau, highland barley has been filling the bellies of Tibetans for generations.

Now the plant is also bringing them wealth.

Tsering Yangzom was busy gathering highland barley over the weekend. She expects to harvest 1,200 kilograms this year. Besides the portion she keeps for her family, she intends to sell the rest to a local processing factory, which will bring in nearly 1,000 yuan ($145) of extra income for her.

Lhorong in Chamdo city of Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region is known for its quality highland barley. With nearly 4,000 hectares of the plant, the county is called "the granary of east Tibet," where about 55,000 people are engaged in the production and processing of the grain.

After harvest, highland barley is washed, dried, roasted and ground into flour-like tsamba - the most popular staple food in Tibet. Since last year, Lhorong tsamba has been granted a geographic indication and is thus protected.

Farmers used to keep most of the yield as their staple food for the following year. However, as new breeds of high-yield barley were introduced, farmers are now able to sell their surplus to a local tsamba company, where the grain is processed into flour, noodles and biscuits.

Tsering Dhondup, the company's general manager, said they purchased 800,000 kilograms of highland barley from local farmers last year, and expect to purchase 1.5 million kilograms this year, thanks to a booming market and expanding production.

More than 1,000 households sold their barley to the company at 30 to 40 percent higher than the street price. The selling price of registered impoverished households was even higher, according to the local government.

"Highland barley processing helps to expedite local economic development and increase people's incomes," Tsering Dhondup said.

Among the 30 employees of the company, 28 were from registered impoverished families. Due to the stable income of the job, 18 of them have been successfully lifted out of poverty. The expanded recruitment is expected to help another 50 to 80 low-income residents shake off poverty next year. Many families in Lhorong have bid goodbye to poverty thanks to highland barley. According to the local government's work plan, the whole county will be lifted out of poverty by year-end.


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