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Forage crop breakthrough boosts incomes

Publish Time: 2018-05-29 Author: From: China Daily

Han Junwen, 50, an agricultural technician from Shaanxi province, moved to Tibet autonomous region's Ngari prefecture in 2005 to help herdsmen develop animal husbandry.

Han Junwen. [Provided to China Daily]

In 2005, I and my colleagues arrived at Ngari on a truck carrying plant seeds and farm implements from Shaanxi. Shortly after, two of my colleagues were admitted to hospital due to severe altitude sickness, and they spent nearly a month receiving treatment.

At that time, the local agriculture was still primitive and the development level was equivalent to that of inland provinces in the 1960s and '70s.

There was nothing but the Gobi Desert along Highway G219 in Kunsha township, except for 2 hectares of highland barley.

On 3.3 hectares of barren land, we cultivated trial plots of 25 types of plants in four categories - forage, grains, tree seedlings and vegetables. Among the forage crops planted was alfalfa, a drought-tolerant, cold-resistant species introduced from the Loess Plateau.

The next year, the alfalfa survived through the chilly winter in Ngari and showed good adaptability.

Before we came here, alfalfa had never successfully been planted in Ngari, and it was believed that it was not possible for the species to survive at a place 4,200 meters above sea level.

We chose to expand the cultivation area of alfalfa because it has a long life expectancy, is rich in nutrients, and is a favorite forage crop for livestock. In 2006, we planted 20 hectares and the average output of fresh grass the next year reached 37.5 to 45 metric tons per hectare.

Surviving the winter is the biggest test for the plants in Ngari. We worked hand in hand with local residents, teaching them how to plow fields, dig channels, use plastic film, grow the plants and irrigate them.

Due to the lack of oxygen, the work went slowly. It took eight people a day to do the farm work on a 667-square-meter field, compared with two people in inland provinces.

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