Agriculture has witnessed stable development thanks to application of science and technology. Tibet now has 225,000 hectares of cultivated land. With the development of modern agroscience and technology, the traditional farming method has been replaced by modern techniques, such as introducing improved strains, improving soil quality, building water conservancy projects, harnessing rivers, intensive cultivation, rational application of chemical fertilizers and agricultural chemicals. Gone are the days when Lamas were asked to pray for insects in the fields to be killed.
In 1990, the region carried out a project to establish four science and technology demonstration counties (cities) -- Gyangze, Xigaze, Lhunzhub and Gonggar. Their combined sown area of more than 30,000 hectares for grain crops accounted for 16.1 percent of the region's total. Grain yield totaled 152.7 million kg, equalling 27.5 percent of the total, an increase of 24.6 percent or 30 million kg over the previous year. Moreover, grain output reached a record of 50 million kg in Gyangze and Xigaze. The 1995 total grain output in Tibet registered 700 million kg. All these, achieved without adding more cultivated land, would have been impossible without the contribution of science and technology.
While promoting agroscientific research, efforts have been made to breed improved seeds, transform the cultivation system, obtain a detailed survey of agricultural resources and soil, investigate the land use situation, develop a systematic cultivation, transform medium- and low-yield farmland, and popularize agrotechniques for dry-land farming. The popularization of winter wheat planting, for example, is an important step forward. The efforts made in changing the old cultivation system, spreading improved strains and increasing grain production have brought fundamental changes in agricultural production, and moreover, laid a solid foundation for successive bumper grain harvests.
In 1977, the region's total grain output exceeded 500 million kg. At the same time, scientific workers also recorded tremendous progress in improving basic soil fertility through biotechnological means, the use of fertilizers, and comprehensive prevention and control of plant weeds, diseases and insect pests. Research results such as the Survey of Agriculture-related Weeds, Diseases and Insect Pests and Their Natural Enemy Resources in Tibet and the Collections of Tibetan Crops Resources won awards for science and technology progress from the state and the autonomous region respectively. Studies on Comprehensive Survey and Use of Land Resources in the Tibet Autonomous Region filled vital gaps in knowledge of available land resources on the plateau, leading to the first establishment of the alpine soil order and classification of the soil system throughout the plateau. Research results, which attained advanced international level, won a special prize for science and technology progress from the autonomous region in 1993 and a second-class prize from the state in 1995. The Study on Systematic Cultivation Techniques for High-Yield Wheat Crops was demonstrated in areas in the Yarlung Zangbo, Lhasa, Nyang Qu and Nyang river valleys. Based on regional cultivation and systematic management, the experiments integrated study with demonstration and popularization to create systematic scientific research materials.
Three years of research covered 77,200 hectares of systematic cultivated area which produced per-hectare grain yield of 5,500 kg per season. The result was a total increase of over 101.67 million kg of grain, producing more than 60.51 million yuan of net income. In particular, the study of systematic cultivation of winter and spring qingke barley produced tangible economic, social and ecological returns.
In the final decade of this century, Tibet is undertaking a significant Three-River Project--comprehensive development of the middle reaches of the Yarlung Zangbo, Lhasa and Nyang rivers, which will cost 1 billion yuan from the state. From 1991 to June 1995, the state had invested a total of 507.5 million yuan, and nearly 80 projects were completed, laying a solid foundation for further development. A decade of efforts will create four bases for commercial grain; light industry, textiles and handicrafts; livestock products, vegetables and non-staple foods; and scientific and technological demonstration. Ecological and economic returns in the area will reach a high level. This long-term program, the largest ever in Tibet, will have far-reaching socio-economic significance.
Nowadays, the region's agricultural production has largely been mechanized, with the aggregate power of farm machinery exceeding 500,000 kw. The per-capita power of farmers is nearly 0.6 kw, a rate close to the average for inland rural areas. The mechanized ploughed area accounts for 25 percent of the region's total, and the sown area 65 percent, both equivalent to inland rural levels. Tibet today has abandoned backward and primitive agriculture to form an initial system based on modern science and technology.
One of the five large pastoral areas in the country, Tibet boasts 82.07 million hectares of grassland, 70.77 million hectares of which can be used to raise various kinds of domestic animals totalling 22.8 million. Animal husbandry is a basic and vital industry for the local economy and the growing prosperity of Tibetan people. Livestock products are key materials for both national handicraft and processing industries, and an important source of export earnings. Over the past four decades, the government has paid great attention to livestock farming. Scientific research has achieved major results in selecting and breeding animal varieties, training veterinary surgeons and building up the grasslands.
Yaks, a symbol of highland animal husbandry, have long been trained on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and are deeply loved as a totem of Tibetan ethnic group. In return, yaks, as highland treasures, are raising the Tibetan people. In recent years, however, the variety of yaks has seriously deteriorated, directly influencing output and quality. Therefore, much effort has gone into seeking improvements. Linzhou County, in particular, is playing a key role in the test and manufacture of frozen yak semen, as well as the study and practice of selective breeding, in the process creating 614,000 yuan of profits. The economic returns are of great significance to Tibetan livestock farming.
The spread of the Lhasa white chicken has solved the reproductive problem of high-yield egg-laying chickens under highland conditions and formed an ideal egg-oriented breed. These efforts have solved the supply problem of egg and chicken meat, enriching the diet and improving people's lives. Science and technology in animal husbandry has made an important contribution to the region's poultry husbandry.
A breakthrough has been made in the study of the anal skin cancer in goat, opening a new way to cure skin cancer of domestic animals with medicinal herbs.
In the light of actual local conditions, scientific workers have given priority to the grass sector to introduce improved herbage and fodder, providing rich and reliable materials for artificial planting of forage grass. More than 1,000 hectares of land have been planted to help solve grass shortages in winter and spring.
In addition, cattle raising has a long history in Tibet. It has a multiple use of milk, meat and working. Tangible results have been made in improving the variety and raising production properties since 1960. The creating of fine breeds has opened the way for the people to become prosperous. The breeding of half-fine-wooled sheep has laid a solid foundation for creating a new variety. Production of formula feed has begun. Fish meal and additive production has bridged gaps in Tibetan fodder science and technology. The work of animal protection has basically reached the standard level.