Tibet celebrates start of spring farming season

LHASA, March 17 (Xinhua) -- A spring farming ceremony has been held in the community of Khesum, in the city of Shannan in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, with farmers dressed in festive costumes and tractors adorned with flags and flowers.

This kind of ceremony dates back more than 1,600 years. Tuesday marked the start of this year's spring farming, according to the Tibetan calendar.

Dorje, 73, wearing a new Tibetan costume, drank highland barley wine with his fellow farmers, praying for favorable weather and good harvests. Spring farming is the biggest agricultural event of the year for Tibetan farmers.

"My whole family comes to the ceremony, and my son-in-law drove a tractor here," he said.

The ceremony began at about 10:30 a.m., with 16 tractors plowing the field and a number of women following behind to throw highland barley seeds on the land.

After the ceremony, people joined hands in a circle, singing and dancing to mark the occasion.

Khesum community, previously the Khesum village, was the first village in Tibet to launch the democratic reform in 1959. This community has undergone dramatic changes in the last more than 60 years.

"Before the democratic reform, under the oppression of the lords, serfs worked hard for a whole year but not a single grain belonged to them," said Dorje, who experienced the feudal serfdom.

"Now, people don't have to worry about their food and clothing, and the spring plowing ceremony is like the New Year. People gather in the fields to celebrate the good life together," he said.

In 2017, all residents of Khesum escaped poverty. The annual per capita net income of the community reached 25,324 yuan (about 3,900 U.S. dollars) in 2020, up more than 100 times from 1978.

Tibet has invested 4.5 billion yuan in developing high-standard farmlands since 2016. The region's grain output stood at 1.03 million tonnes last year, staying above 1 million tonnes for the sixth year in a row.

Last year, the whole region eliminated absolute poverty along with the rest of the country. Its gross domestic product grew 7.8 percent. The per capita disposable income of the region's rural residents grew 12.7 percent, and that of urban residents rose 10 percent.