In Tibet, a graduate spurns govt job, plants mushrooms

Publish Time: 2021-02-07 Author: Palden Nyima and Daqiong in Bomi, Tibet From:

Samtan Dondrub (right) gets advice about mushrooms from an experienced connoisseur in his greenhouse. [Photo by Palden Nyima/]

Greenhouses covered with black netting to reduce the harsh sunshine line up like soldiers in a flat area at the foot of Senge Gongla, a snow-capped mountain in the Tramok township of the Tibet autonomous region's Bomi county. Samtan Dondrub is busy watering his fungus field with the help of two villagers.

Samtan is a college graduate and one of the few in his village with the courage to open up a new business rather than hoping for a stable government job like most others.

As the number of graduates increases thanks to higher school enrollments in the region in recent years, the government has been encouraging them to find jobs in the marketplace or start their own businesses — not merely take civil service exams.

After graduating from Shijiazhuang Economic Vocational College in Hebei province in 2017, Samtan, a 26-year-old accounting major, had sought government work for two years without success.

"So many college graduates are seeking government jobs today that it's very challenging," he said. "So I gave up on taking the tests and decided to start my own business."

He has been receiving encouragement and support from the government but "had a tough time convincing my parents, who thought a government job was best," he said.

With an investment of 10,000 yuan (1,500 USD), he set up six plantation greenhouses on 0.53 hectares of land rented from the village.

"The county government also pays a subsidy for college students who open up new businesses. I have sent my application already, and I heard that I can get 50,000 yuan," he said.

In October, Samtan planted morchella esculenta in the greenhouses. It also grows in the forests around his village. Collecting mushrooms in the summer is a brisk business in his hometown.

Samtan Dondrub's greenhouses lie at the feet of snow-capped mountains and forests in Bomi county, Tibet autonomous region. [Photo by Palden Nyima/]

Cultivating the mushrooms by imitating wild conditions can raise yields. He received technical support from a successful local mushroom planter in the county.

Now, two of his fellow villagers work permanently in his greenhouses. He also hires temporary staff to work there when in need of labor. Each worker receives a salary of 150 yuan per day.

Samtan expects a net income of more than 10,000 yuan in April with his first harvest. A local mushroom company has promised him to help him to do the selling. He also plans to invite an internet celebrity to help with promotion.

According to the Human Resources and Social Security Bureau of Nyingchi, the city that governs Samtan's county, there were 1,925 college graduates last year seeking various jobs, including 440 who found jobs in the public sector, 870 in the marketplace and 39 who started their own businesses.

During the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) period, the employment rate of college graduates in the Tibet autonomous region hovered around 95 percent, and the rate of market employment and entrepreneurship hit more than 70 percent, Tibet Daily reported.

"At first, my parents were not supportive of my business dream. But with mushrooms sprouting in the greenhouses these days, they are no longer worried or unsupportive. Now they call me to check on my progress, and they remind me to take good care of the plantation every day," he said.

Samtan Dondrub (left) gets a lesson about the temperature needed for mushrooms from an experienced connoisseur in his greenhouse. [Photo by Palden Nyima/]

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