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Profits of yak milk business
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"Thanks to the help from government and (Swedish-based) Tetra Pak, new processing lines were introduced, and experts sent by the government and the Sweden company offered suggestions and provided training for not only company staff but also local herders," says Wang.

Now the Treasure of Plateau's plant is as modern and sanitary as any other Chinese dairy enterprise.

Wang, who was born and raised in Tibet, is also excited about the opening of the Qinghai-Tibet railway and its potential to streamline the dairy's transportation needs.

"It helps us greatly reduce transportation costs and increase our efficiency, which helps us promote our products to the other parts of China," he notes.

The company has expanded steadily with total assets currently exceeding 70 million yuan.

The diary's success along with more modern yak husbandry techniques have also led to other, smaller yak dairy operations on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.

They are mainly engaged in yak cheese processing. The products are easy to transport and also slowly becoming overseas gourmet specialties such as Tibetan Ragya Yak Cheese which has been irregularly imported to New York by Slow Food USA, a not-for-profit organization.

Tibet Nagqu's yak herders are also trying to break into distant markets through a government-funded dairy cooperative. The local government offers low-interest loans and networking information for herders with practical business proposals.

In Langdu, a Qinghai county bordering Tibet, villagers have set up a collective factory to producing local yak cheese.

"We have been living on yaks, now, we want to live better on those sacred bulls who always bring luck to us," says Sang Ji Zhuo Ma, a community leader.

They were also able to obtain aid from a group of volunteers from a Boston-based non-profit organization Ventures in Development, who are helping local herders upgrade their cheese factory, export their products and bring money into a community that relies on subsistence farming.

"We wouldn't be doing this if there was no profit. It needs to be sustainable, and it's only sustainable if the business can run and renew on its own," says Esther Hsu, chief marketing officer of the project.

Sales challenge

Sources from China Nutrition Society, a Ministry of Health-backed research institute, say that yak milk contains 18 kinds of amino acids, including eight essential ones that people cannot synthesize. The amino acids, calcium, and vitamin A in yak milk are 15 percent, 15 percent and 6 percent higher than in cow milk respectively.

Yak milk improves immunity and bone density, controls diabetes, and plays an important role in muscle tissue, the nutrition society claims.

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