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Tibetans Comb Gold from Goats' Hair

[WTN-L World Tibet Network News. Published by The Canada Tibet Committee. Issue ID: 00/11/21; November 21, 2000.]

[Xinhua is an official news agency of the Peopoel's Republic of China]

LHASA, November 21 (Xinhuanet) -- Toinzhub Gyaincain, in his 60s, used to live a poor life even though he had several hundred domestic animals. But, everything changed when he bought more than 200 white-coated goats several years ago.

He sells goat cashmere and will earn 30,000 yuan (3,614 U.S. dollars) this year. "This is a major cash income for my family," Toinzhub Gyaincain said.

He is only one of the Tibetans in Ali Prefecture, southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, who became wealthy by raising white-haired goats.

Ali, one of the major pasturing areas in Tibet, has more than 26 million hectares of grassland. The goat cashmere produced in the region, named "soft gold", sells well on the international market.

With the help of the central government and other provinces of China, Ali has invested more than 70 million yuan in building a group of animal husbandry infrastructure facilities, including goat breeding stations, sheep pens and wells in recent years.

The Rutog County, where Toinzhub Gyaincain lives, has a long history of raising white-coated goats. The county produces the best quality cashmere in the world in terms of purity and fineness, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

A kind of cross-bred goat developed by Ge'gyai County produces some 600 grams of cashmere per head.

Toinzhub Gyaincain's family now has more than 500 goats. Selling cashmere has enabled them to build new houses, buy hand tractors and household electric appliances. He plans to raise more goats next year.

Like Toinzhub Gyaincain, more and more Tibetans are raising goats instead of sheep.

A herdsman from Ge'gyai County said that he now has over 500 livestock, 70 percent are goats. He said, "I'm grateful that the government and scientific workers have helped me find a way to become wealthy."

At present, the number of goats in the prefecture has increased to 1.1 million from the former about 900,000 five years ago. The annual output of cashmere totals 244,000 kilograms, up from the 150,000 kilograms in the early 1990s.

Ali's sales from cashmere hit over 30 million yuan in 1999, accounting for more than 70 percent of the per capita income for local herdsmen.

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