Photo shows that Tibetan farmers harvest highland barley in northern Tibet's Nagqu Prefecture. [Photo/ China Tibet Online]
When the autumn approaches in Tibet's Nagqu Prefecture, farmlands have gradually become dyed by the golden highland barley ears, and people living on the northern Tibetan Plateau become busy to embrace another good harvest this year.
Owning a history of over 3,500 years, highland barley is the leading food crop of Tibet, which can grow in areas with an altitude from 1,000 meters to 4,750 meters. With good capability to adapt to harsh and unique natural environment of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the cultivated area of highland barley accounts for 50 to 60 percent of total grain crop seeding areas in Tibet, and the proportion may reach up to 80 percent in some high and cold regions.
Made from fried and ground highland barley, Tsampa is the staple food loved by Tibetans, while highland barley wine is the most welcomed and common drink of them. Moreover, the straws of highland barley are also fine forage grasses for livestock.
Highland barley in Tibet has many species featuring various colors such as white, black, purple and brown, different awn lengths, and different growth cycles.
In recent years some new species have also been achieved, thanks to the agricultural technicians in Tibet devoting themselves to improving highland barley, such as the "Highland Barley 2000" featured with high yield, anti-virus and high nutritional value.
With an average altitude of over 4,000 meters, northern Tibet's Nagqu Prefecture is the main pasturing area of Tibet, where crop farming can be also found in the prefecture's eastern areas such as Driru, Sog, Bachen and Lhari Counties.