(TibetanReview.net, Apr 14, 2009) — Agriculture accounts for only about 15 percent of GDP in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), but rural farmers and herdsman still account for much of the region’s ethnic Tibetan population, reported Reuters Apr 12 while noting that the local government was planning to more than double spending on livestock and other local agricultural products. With well over 80 percent of the Tibetans in the region being farmers and herders and the bulk of its urban population being Chinese immigrants, it is, therefore, obvious who the real beneficiaries of the region’s continuous yearly 12 percent economic growth have been.
The report cited China’s official Xinhua news agency as saying spending on livestock raising as well as specialised local herbs and medicinal products will rise to 820 million yuan ($120 million) this year, up from 320 million yuan last year. This appears to suggest that the spending will be on business aspects of the rural economy, rendering it doubtful whether ordinary farmers and herdsmen would benefit much from it.
Indeed, the Xinhua report was cited as saying the money would go to setting up bases for crop-fed dairy herds, yak, cashmere goat, chicken and pig production, and would also promote growing of Tibetan medicinal herbs, oilseeds and green vegetables. Thus, rural Tibetans may benefit only marginally as suppliers of crops, animals, and as wage workers to these production bases, which may be either state-owned or very likely run by Chinese immigrants.