Aug. 28, 2017 -- Growing vegetables on a plateau 4,000 meters above sea level is hard work.
But Bainang county in Xigaze prefecture, the Tibet autonomous region, has made it possible, thanks to the help of farming experts from Shandong province in East China and other regions of the country.
Bainang, about 300 kilometers from the world's highest peak, Qomolangma, has been a traditional agricultural base in Tibet. Highland barley, which is suitable for high-altitude areas, is the staple crop.
But after about two decades' effort, vegetable plantations, mostly in greenhouses, have become an emerging industry in the county.
Penpa Dundrob, Party chief in Phengtsang village, Bardrag township, was one of the pioneers in growing greenhouse vegetables in the county. Now in his 70s, he has managed several greenhouses together with his son.
Residents in his village began to grow vegetables in greenhouses in 1998, he said.
"Initially, the villagers lacked confidence because only a few had experience in growing radishes, potatoes and cabbages in open fields, in addition to highland barley.
"It was Zhang who taught us how to plant vegetables and helped us to build confidence."
He was referring to Zhang Jiming, a vegetable expert from Shandong who has worked in Bainang for 17 years.
About 50 vegetable experts and skilled farmers from Shandong traveled to Bainang to help the locals to grow vegetables. With their help, Bainang has become one of the most important vegetable producing regions in Tibet.
Shandong iself is a leading vegetable producer in China, and its support has been crucial in helping Bainang's vegetable industry to rise quickly.
More than 3,200 households in Bainang are now engaged in vegetable farming, the county government said.
There are 5,428 greenhouses covering 780 hectares used for vegetable farming, producing 25,000 metric tons or 100 million yuan worth of vegetables a year.
Huang Xiaoguang, deputy Party chief of Bainang, said improving vegetables' adaptability to the high altitude of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is a big challenge that the experts and technicians from Shandong are tackling head on.
Huang is also an official from Shandong. He came to Bainang to fulfill his responsibility to help the Tibetan people to improve their lives by using resources from Shandong.
Shandong's farming experts have been developing vegetable varieties with better adaptability for the past 19 years and have made great progress, he said.
Despite Bainang's high altitude, Huang said it is suitable for greenhouse vegetable farming because of the plentiful sunshine and fertile and pollution-free soil.
"In nearly two decades, vegetable farming has become a promising industry in Bainang."
Shandong's experts have also endeavored to make their technologies and expertise better understood by more local farmers.
They have established a demonstration park for vegetable farming in Bainang, using modern technologies and equipment. Zhang is the chief technology officer of the park.
"Here we offer training courses on greenhouse vegetable farming for local people in Bainang," Zhang said.
Feng Jikang, deputy mayor of Xigaze, and who is also from Shandong, said Bainang county should foster its own brands of organic vegetables, relying on the support of Shandong's experts and the concerted efforts of local farmers.
Bainang county has begun to implement a new development plan for the vegetable industry, focusing on promoting a "companies plus households" operation model, Feng said.
"The integration of farmers as individual growers with companies that have better technologies and sales channels is expected to increase the industry's scale and expand marketing channels."