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Tibet Sees First Zanba Export

Tibetan peasant Zhandui never expected that the zanba his family cooked, a traditional Tibetan staple food of roasted qingke barley flour, could be exported to foreign countries and earn him a considerable amount of money.

"Over half of my family's 12 mu (0.8 hectares) land is growing qingke barley, but it hadn't brought us much income as the market price of qingke barley is only 1.4 yuan (US$0.17) a kilogram. Even processed into zanba, it can be sold at only 3 yuan(US$0.36) a kilogram," said Zandui, a peasant of Sangye Town, Zhanang County of Shannan Prefecture in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

However, things have changed since last February, when a contract was signed between the Shannan Prefecture foreign economic and trade bureau and Nepal on exporting 10 tons of zanba,the first of its kind in Tibet.

"The local foreign economic and trade bureau purchased zanba processed by my family at a price of 3.6 yuan (US$0.43) a kilogram. Then if each mu produces 300 kilograms of qingke barley, I can earn 150 yuan (US$18.1) more than before by selling zanba for export," said Zhandui.

This time Zhandui's family sold over 600 kilograms of zanba for export, and earned more than 2,000 yuan (US$241). "It's one third of the annual income of my family," said Zhandui.

Many other peasants in the region have benefited from zanba export to Nepal.

According to Duan Xuyou, head of the Sangye Town, as suppliers of zanba export, nearly 100 peasant households in the town had sold zanba to the local bureau for export.

As a special crop growing in high and cold regions, qingke, also called highland barley, has been confirmed as of the highest luteose content among all barley varieties by experts with the Tibet Autonomous Regional Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

"It multiplies the value of qingke barley many times," said Duan.

This year, the acreage under qingke barley in Sangye is nearly 5,000 mu (333.3 hectares), more than double last year's figure, Duan said.

According to Chen Shangxue, deputy head of Zhanang County, after the export contract of 10 tons, another contract for 30 tonsof zanba export has been signed with Nepal this year. And the county is planning to establish a zanba processing plant of an annual output of 50 tons.

The planting area under qingke barley in Tibet is about 130,000 hectares, or 58 percent of its total farmland. And the annual output of qingke barley is 630,000 tons.
(Xinhua News Agency March 24, 2004)

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