In the Garze area of Tibet are five remote villages that are home to nomadic and semi-nomadic families who make a living farming livestock. The high altitude and cold climate of the region make it very difficult to grow fruit and vegetables so the families who live there rely on a diet of yak meat, tsampa (barley), butter and milk. Local markets sometimes sell imported vegetables but these are very expensive, costing up to 4 times what they do down on the plains, several days truck ride away. For the majority of locals, these are just too expensive a luxury to afford. With a severe lack of vegetables in their diets, the local population suffers from many health problems including poor growth, goiter, weak immune systems and a high occurrence of rickets.
To counteract these problems, our project partners have been working since 2013 providing greenhouses and agricultural training in each of the five villages. 20 families in each village have been given access to the greenhouses and supplied with the necessary seeds, tools and training to grow their own crops. The families also take part in awareness programmes, designed to teach the importance of a balanced diet, and cooking classes to show them how to make the most of their fresh produce.
So far, the villagers have successfully grown a wide variety of fruit and vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce, onion, turnip, spinach, tomato, eggplant, green pepper, cauliflower, radish and even asparagus! With between three and five crops per year, they have been producing a whopping 3,500kg of vegetables each year; a huge boost to nutrition in the villages.
With our support, the coming year will see the introduction of the greenhouse project to one more village and will allow for our partners to continuing offering essential logistical, technical and financial support to the families using the existing greenhouses.