In late September, Tibet has harvested its high-altitude crops, highland barley, coming to the end of the harvest season. And the second Tsampa Tourism and Culture Festival was held in the Dulong Deqen District of Lhasa, the region's capital city, on September 28.
Tsampa, the traditional staple food of the Tibetan people, comes from the highland barley crop, which is a unique crop on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, and serves as the main provisions. According to officials, highland barley production in Tibet this year will exceed 800,000 tons, which fully meets the needs of the local people.
In Tibet, tsampa produced by water mills in Gurum Township of Lhasa are quite famous. Gurum Township has 14,000 mu (1 mu = 0.165 acre) of cultivated land and an annual highland barley output of about 3.5 million kilograms. The seven water mill processing cooperatives and businesses in Gurum Township need to purchase a large number of highland barley from other production areas in order to meet their annual output of more than 25 million kilograms tsampa that are valued at nearly 200 million yuan (28.9 million US dollars). Some of them are exported to Nepal and India.
A number of 108 traditional water mills are seen on each side of a stream named Chubugou in Gurum Township. Locals insist on using water to rotate the stone mills, which grinds the highland barley into powder. It is easy for Tibetans to taste which is machine-processed and which has been processed by water mill. They believe that tsampa produced by a traditional water mill is more delicious.
Gyalpo, an official with one of the tsampa collectives in Gurum Township, said that the first step in processing highland barley is to harvest the crop, thresh it, clean and dry it, then fry it to crack the kernels. Finally, it is processed in the water mill.
"In addition to traditional white and black tsampa, in recent years we have tried processing pea tsampa, as well as deep-processed highland barley products." Gyalpo said that by adhering to using water mill to process highland barley, the local people have been able to get out of poverty.
The Tsampa Tourism and Culture Festival will allow visitors to experience highland barley cultivation and harvest and the special methods used to process tsampa. Dulong Deqen District has confirmed that it will invest more than 5 million yuan (0.72 million US dollars) to improve infrastructure conditions such as roads to include the water mill processing sites along Chubugou on the tourist route and open to tourists next year.