Fresh produce reaches high-altitude areas in Xizang

(Xinhua) 09:27, January 25, 2024

LHASA, Jan. 24 (Xinhua) -- In the remote pastoral areas of Xainza County in southwest China's Xizang Autonomous Region, fresh fruits and vegetables have become a common sight, a stark contrast to Wu Wa's childhood memories where apples were once a rare delicacy and green vegetables were hardly seen on the dining table.

Spanning over 25,000 square kilometers, the county is nestled in the heart of the Qinghai-Xizang Plateau and stands at an average altitude of about 4,700 meters. Nearly 90 percent of Xainza's 23,000 people are engaged in animal husbandry.

The harsh combination of a cold climate, barren land and high altitude posed significant challenges for cultivating fruits and vegetables in this region, so the locals had to rely on meat and dairy products as the main components of their diet.

In 2019, the regional department of commerce launched a pilot project for fruit and vegetable distribution in Xainza. With an investment of nearly 3 million yuan (about 422,000 U.S. dollars), a fresh produce storage facility was built, 16 selling outlets were set up across the county, and refrigeration equipment and transport vehicles were purchased.

As part of this initiative, fresh produce and essential items were packaged and transported from the regional capital of Lhasa, located nearly 600 kilometers away, and sometimes even from Xining, the capital city of the neighboring Qinghai Province, to the county. Subsequently, these goods were distributed to various selling outlets in towns and villages.

"We can now enjoy fresh items like dragon fruit, kiwi fruit and cherries, and we can always have vegetables with our meals," Wu said.

The project has been well-received among the local people and the total number of fresh fruit and vegetable selling outlets in the county has increased to 44 today.

Every year, the county government allocates 70,000 yuan to subsidize the daily operations and fuel costs for operators of the selling outlets in a bid to maintain consistent pricing for fresh produce comparable to prices in other areas, according to Ma Yulong, deputy director of the county's economy and information technology bureau.

A truck laden with 20 tonnes of fresh produce, such as peppers, potatoes, cabbage, tangerines, grapes, apples and other daily essentials, usually sets off from Lhasa at 7 or 8 p.m., reaching Xainza in about 12 hours.

The enhanced transportation system has significantly reduced travel time between the two locations from the previous two days, ensuring the freshness of the produce, said Tonzhub, an official of the county's supply and marketing cooperatives, which is responsible for carrying out the project.

Shere Gyatso, who operates a selling outlet, said he receives shipments two to three times a week, each weighing about 50 kilograms.

"I notify the villagers in our WeChat group as soon as the fresh produce arrives. The demand from villagers has increased, and occasionally I have to restock the supplies," said Shere Gyatso, adding that apples and bok choy are the most sought-after items in his selling outlet.

Last year, Shere Gyatso took part in a training program organized by the county's supply and marketing cooperatives to learn about fruit and vegetable preservation techniques. "These skills have helped me overcome previous problems I faced in preservation. I can replenish my stock with more varieties and offer more options for the villagers," he said.

A total of 218 tonnes of fresh fruits and vegetables were distributed to households in the county in 2023 under this project, accounting for 30 percent of the county's fruit and vegetable consumption.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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