Tibetan highlanders get funding for yak herding

In the Tibet Autonomous Region, farmers and herders account for more than 80 percent of the population. The local government has undertaken several measures to help them.

On the sparsely-populated Tibetan plateau. Signs of modern civilization. But it's still the traditional product that supplies the main source of the herders' income -- butter made from yaks' milk. Tashi Tsring is happy with the output.

"I had nine milk-producing yaks last year, and sold about 20 kilograms of butter, totaling about 46-hundred yuan. This year, I have three more yaks producing milk, and have already sold 13 kilograms of butter in the first quarter. Production is increasing," Tashi Tsring said.

The increase comes as a result of a poverty-reduction program. It provides low-income families with female yaks for free. The yaks then multiply and bring more benefits.

"Thanks to the program, I received two pregnant female yaks in 2010. They soon gave birth to two calves. Since then, the number of my yaks has multiplied. This has improved my livelihood," Tashi Tsring said.

The altitude here at Tanggu is about 4500 meters above sea level. It's a landscape especially suited for yak herding. In the past five years, the local government has been providing financial support to help the locals raise more yaks.

Herders in Tibet can get soft loans to buy more yaks, and build up stables for the animals to spend the winter. They also get funding for their efforts to prevent degradation of grassland. Tashi Tsring, like most herders at Tanggu, leads a semi-nomadic life. He built this house five years ago with a special fund. The eight-member family underwent hardships decades ago. In the eyes of the mother, the improvements of life are obvious.

"We had a big family, and there weren't enough laborers to help out. Now, my kids have already grown up. With these government policies, my life is now gradually improving," Tashi Tsring's mother said.

Yaks are well adapted to high altitudes. But they are susceptible to epidemics. The local government office sends a veterinarian to help prevent and treat disease.

"I have more than 30 yaks now. I hope, with more favorable policies in place, along with the help of the veterinarian, the number of yaks will double in the near future," Tashi Tsring said.

Herding in the high altitudes is not without its excitement. Tashi Tsring invites his neighbors to join the party. It's a farewell to hardships, and a celebration of fulfilling new hopes.