China steps up subsidy for Tibet grassland conservancy

LHASA – The central government of China will inject two billion yuan annually from 2011-2015 into a subsidy program for grassland conservation in Tibet, according to the autonomous region’s agricultural authorities.

The subsidies will go to farmers and herders whose grasslands are under grazing ban, or who cultivate improved varieties of grazing and raise improved breeds of livestock, said Zhu Chunsheng, deputy director with the agricultural and animal husbandry department of Tibet.

About 200,000 farmers and herdsmen will benefit from the subsidies with their incomes expected to increase by about 2,000 yuan ($313) annually, Zhu said.

According to the program, a herdsman will receive a subsidy of six yuan for each mu (0.07 hectare) of grazing-prohibited land each year. They will also receive a 10-yuan subsidy per mu for improved varieties of grazing.

Moreover, each household will receive a subsidy of 500 yuan for the purchase of forage and use of diesel oil for fuel, instead of excrement of yaks, a traditional Tibetan way of fueling that may result in the loss of grass.

Zhu said the subsidy program is the largest ever in Tibet in terms of coverage.

There are 1.23 billion mu (82 million hectares) of native grassland in Tibet, about 68 percent of the region’s territory and one fifth of China’s total grassland.

Ninety percent of China’s grasslands are deteriorated to some degree, said Gao Hongbin, vice minister of agriculture, at a national work conference on grassland conservation last week.

Officials came to an agreement at the conference to spend the next ten years revamping China’s deteriorating pastures by prioritizing environmental protection.

The State Council published a circular prior to the conference promising subsidies for herders who will be prohibited from allowing their cattle to graze on severely damaged grasslands.

In 2009, Tibet initiated the first grassland protection subsidy program in China to ease ecological pressure.

Xinhua

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