Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Forestry  


Agriculture has dominated the Tibetan economy for a long period and has produced a variety of crops. Before Tibet's peaceful liberation in 1951, the long-standing serf system severely impeded Tibetan productivity and the production mode remained quite backward. In the agricultural areas, people tilled the land with wooden ploughs and used yaks to thrash the grain. Not until Tibet's peaceful liberation in May 1951 was modern agricultural science and technology enabled to gradually develop in the region. After Tibe's Democratic Reform in 1959, it launched a large-scale campaign in capital construction on farmland, building irrigation works, improving soil conditions, spreading new farm tools and breeding new varieties of crops, improving the farming system and promoting the use of science and technology. The result was the rapid development of agriculture.

With its agricultural center mainly distributed on the plains drained by the Yarlung Zangbo, Jinshajiang, Lancangjiang and Nujiang Rivers, Tibet was dubbed the granary of the plateau. In 1952 the area of farmland in Tibet was 160,000 hectares, producing a total of 155,000 tons of grain. Now, the farmland has been expanded to 230,000 hectares. The main crops are highland barley, wheat, pea, broad bean, potato, rape and beet. Some areas also grow rice, corn, bean, green bean, peanut, tobacco, Chinese cabbage, spinach, turnip, buckwheat and garlic. In 1999, the grain output in Tibet was 922,100 tons, a 6.5-fold increase over 1952. The output of rapeseed was 41,000 tons, a 18-fold increase over 1952. In 2000, the grain output of Tibet rose to 962,200 tons.

Animal Husbandry

The Tibet Autonomous Region is one of the five pasturelands in China. Natural grasslands total 82.052 million hectares, or 23 percent of the national total. In 2001, the meat and dairy production of Tibet got close to 150,000 tons and 200,000 tons respectively, representing a per-capita share of 57 kg of meat and 78 kg of milk, figures which are higher than the national average. The per-capita share of meat is higher than the world's average.

The variety of livestock in Tibet includes yak, cattle, pien niu (offspring of a bull and a female yak), horse, donkey, sheep and pig. Livestock products are major export resources and the materials for the improved livelihood of the Tibetan people, and also the main raw materials of the textile and processing industries. They have been playing an important role in the Tibetan economy.

Tibetan livestock husbandry enjoys a history of several thousand years. But its primitive, rough and simple operating style featuring herdsmen moving about in search of pastureland had not changed until the end of the 1950s. The productive force was quite low in level. Statistics for 1952 showed that total livestock was only 9.74 million head. In the past 30 years or so, local herdsmen led by governments at all levels in Tibet have launched large-scale campaigns to protect pasture, improve livestock breeds, and prevent and cure epidemic diseases of livestock. In the meantime, efforts have also been made to enclose pastureland, divert water to irrigate grassland, and herd livestock in rotation in different seasons. The result has been the rapid development of animal husbandry. By 2000, various livestock numbered 23 million head, including 4 million head of yaks, 980,000 oxen, 270,000 pien niu, 1.55 million milk cows, 140,000 horses, 11.4 million sheep, 5.77 million goats and 180,000 pigs. The output of meat products reached 149,300 tons, that of dairy products was 204,000 tons and the production of sheep wool came to 8,629 tons.


Tibet has a total of 7.17 million hectares of forestry land with 2.084 billion cubic meters of living timber in storage. The protection and construction of Tibet's ecological environment will exert a great influence on the living environment in the areas around the lower and middle reaches of the Yangtze River, the southwest neighboring countries and even to the whole globe.

Since January 1, 1999, felling natural forests in the areas of upper reaches of the Yangtze River, including the counties of Jamda, Konjo and Mangkam, has been prohibited. The Plan for the Project to Protect Natural Forests in Tibet (Upper Reaches of the Yangtze River) was approved by the State Forestry Bureau and has been submitted to the State Council for approval. The Tibet Autonomous Region has attached importance to the project. Despite financing difficulties, it still put in 10 million Yuan as a start-up fund of the State project. The money was mainly used for growing saplings, investigating forest resources, and relocating residents of the project site. The Plan for the Project to Protect the Natural Forest in the Whole Region compiled by the Tibet Autonomous Regional Government has been submitted to the State Council for approval.

Gross Output Value of Agriculture, Forestry,
Animal Husbandry and Fishery
  Areas Under Cultivation
Number of Livestock in Year-End   Forest Production
Rural Social Gross Output Value   Hydropower Stations, Chemical Fertilizers and
Irrigated Land in Rural Areas
Number of Farm Machinery Owned at Year End   Yields of Major Crops
Tea Plantations, Orchards and Output   Per-Captita Share of Grain, Oil-Bearing
Grops, Meat and Milk
Number of Cattle, Hogs and Sheep Slaughtered   Output of Livestock Products



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