Spring ploughing starts in Yarlung river valley

On March 16, in Yarlung River Valley of Shannan City in southwest China’s Tibet, villagers dressed in festive clothes and held the hada scarf, driving tractors to welcome the start of spring ploughing season in the snowy plateau.

The fields may be the same, but today’s Tibetan farmers are no longer limited to the “a yoke of two cattle for tilling” and manual method of farming. Machine-farming, machine-planting, and machine-harvesting are in wide-use. Tashi Dondrup, a 73-year-old farmer, told the reporter that it used to take the whole family more than a month for the fall harvest, but now, with the “mechanical bull” (tractor), it only takes 10 days to do the work.

Migmar Tenzin, a 51-year-old farmer, has been liberated from traditional farming. Three years ago, he formed a farmers’ construction team and took on projects all over, earning more than 100 thousand yuan (14,907.8 US dollars) annually. He still remembers to celebrate this holiday with the villagers.

He said: “We’ve always lived off the land, and the spring ploughing ceremony is that we ask for good weather, good harvest, and harmony through the year.”

Dolung, the vice director for the Khesum Village Committee, said: “we’ve mostly planted highland barley and wheat in the past, and earned at most 800 yuan (119.3 US dollars) per mu (0.067 hectares) annually. After adjusting the planting structure, we started to plant corn and green feed last year, and now we make around 3,000 yuan (447.2 US dollars) per mu.”

In addition to scientific farming, this ancient field is now on the express train of modern farming.

Benpa, the vice chief of the Agriculture and Animal Husbandry Bureau in Nedong District of Shannan, said the whole district has implemented the “company + village committee + farmer” model, how much and what to plant is all decided by orders from companies, and the farmers’ income is ensured. In 2018, the average income for the farmers and herders in Nedong District has reached almost 10 thousand yuan (14,907.8 US dollars) annually.