50%;mso-pagination: none;mso-layout-grid-align:none;text-autospace:none'>In Lapland, extensive forms of management with a high application of technical equipment followed the earlier intensive nomadic animal husbandry. One pre-condition for this shift was that the reindeer are no longer kept for milk but exclusively for meat production. The main product of yaks remains milk, which demands per se intensive herding management. In Lapland the nomadic way of life transformed largely into the occupation of livestock owner'. The reindeer are no longer kept for self-subsistence but as a market commodity, which brings with it a different attitude towards the herd. However, the pastoralist approach is more multifaceted than suggested above, as Paine describes (1994):

In respect to livestock rearing, the fundamental question is whether the herd is an intrinsic value for a pastoralist or a market commodity. Certainly, and unsurprisingly, the market factor has increasing importance. However, it is the qualifying factors, which are of interest. All whom I knew held to both values: intrinsic and market, (p. 15).

 

 

Central slaughterhouses have been established; these have had to be built since 1995 in Finland according to EU-directives. Most of the reindeer meat remains in Lapland, which can partly be explained by ineffective marketing-strategies (K. Nakkalajarvi, personal comment, 1999). The demand for reindeer meat in southern Fenno-Scandia, as well as in central Europe is still growing. 'Clean' reindeer meat was in demand from Germany for example during the mad cow disease period (Korhonen, 2001).

A shift to market-oriented production in the early 1990s in Dzamthang can only be identified by the collection of medicinal herbs and mushrooms as a side-product, a response to an increased demand on the market. This was intended to change with the establishment of a meat-processing factory which opened in 1995. Nomads asked in 1991 and 1992 were not very enthusiastic about the planned factory. They did not like the idea of selling animals to the factory, often due to cultural-religious reasons, and they were concerned about imposed state quotas. The factory closed down after two or three years. According to the opinion of a former county official (personal comment in 2001), the factory could not buy enough livestock, and it was planned on too big a scale. Lacking recent data from Dzamthang, it is difficult to judge whether a reluctance to sell live animals is still determining the pastoral economy. The implementation of new taxes and imposed measures like the fencing of the pasture tenures, which the nomads must pay for themselves, force all livestock owners to sell many animals. Recently interviewed pastoralists, in regions with existing marketing possibilities like Hongyuan county and Dzoge county, however, did not underpin a reluctant attitude towards trading livestock. The marketing of the pastoral goods is still a major problem in China. Beside infrastructure difficulties, beef and milk does not belong widely to the diet of the Chinese. However, the demand is rising.

In Lapland, technical equipment supports largely the reindeer husbandry. For rounding up, snowmobiles are used, in summer cross-country motorbikes (see Figure 7) and all-terrain vehicles, occasionally light airplanes and helicopters. The application of modem technologies like mobile phones and locating devices supports the herding, and this development is still ongoing.5

During the Collective period in China, an attempt was made to apply agricultural machinery in animal husbandry, but the use did not continue after privatisation. In the present day, only little technical equipment is used by the Tibetan pastoralists. Solar panels are found in many tents, and provide enough electricity for a bulb and a radio. Motorbikes, which constitute 'the' status symbol for young nomads, are beginning to replace horses, though not yet in herding management. The nomads use them to reach the market places and to transport goods. Gasoline is sometimes difficult to get, and in times of shortage the prices rise dramatically. The same occurred when the snowmobile was introduced in Lapland. "The application of cost-intensive equipment leads to an increasing dependence on exchange relations. However, the possession of a snowmobile and the resulting expenditures are nowadays considered as an unavoidable cost factor for Lapland's reindeer owners.

From 1898 on, membership in a herding co-operative was prescribed for all reindeer owners in Finland. The co-operative deals with matters like joint gathering and separations of reindeer in early winter, fence-construction,6 pasture regulation, registration of earmarks, the marketing of the reindeer products and even decides who can own reindeer. In China, matters concerning animal husbandry are decided by governmental bodies on different administrative levels and the policies change constantly. The possibilities of the Tibetan nomadic family to plan and determine the husbandry management are limited, in spite of the household responsibility system. In terms of pastoral economy for instance, all profits are skimmed off by different type of taxes, state quotas and imposed investments like fence building. The pastoral family has only little chance to save enough money in order to invest in a new business. Paine (1996) discusses the role of the state in the reindeer pastoralism for Norway, where the state took over control of herds and personnel in response to incommensurate herd growth. Paine disapproves, and models instead a herd management in which the pastoralists resolve problems with a flexible self-adjustment to pastures as a limiting factor.

 

 

Conclusions

 

This paper discussed the re-emergence of nomadism on the Tibetan plateau, in Dzamthang county, after it had been displaced for two decades. Some features were revived which are identical to the lifestyle before the Collectivisation period, others were adapted to the changed political and socio-economic contexts. The agro-pastoralists shifted their production towards animal husbandry at the expenses of field cultivation, which also caused changes in their settlement patterns. The revival is not homogeneous throughout all areas of the Tibetan plateau, but occurred mainly in regions which are marked by a lack of marketing opportunities. Dzamthang's pastoralists succeeded in surviving by resorting to a nomadic lifestyle after the state withdrew from organizing their lives, at least in the mid-term, yet nomadism is threatened by extinction again. This is unfortunate because this flexible form of production provides suitable land-use for marginal regions which can rarely be used in other ways. Nomadism, and the value accorded wealth on the hoof, however, stands in contradiction to the market-oriented economy in China, and a subsistence-based economy stands in contradiction to a society in which cash is needed to pay for basic needs like grain and hospital bills, and to pay taxes. Further, recent government directives, which attempt to improve animal husbandry in Sichuan, are inconsistent with nomadism, and young nomads spoken to were not enthusiastic about continuing their lives as nomads. Nomadic parents who have been met recently encourage their children to continue their school education in order to find other job possibilities.

The recent form of reindeer husbandry in Lapland with its extensive hording management and the application of technical equipment might appear to many as modern and contemporary. However, the high input of cost-intensive equipment, supplementary feeding but also state subsidies raised the production costs astronomically. This might result in only those herders with large stock reindeer husbandry having this as the exclusive means of livelihood. For an increasing number of reindeer-owners, animal husbandry will become a secondary source of income, or they give it up completely.

In conclusion, I would like to stress one feature which I consider to be an important issue for the future direction of mobile animal husbandry on the Tibetan plateau. Local bodies, like the hording co-operatives in Lapland, through which the livestock owners decide on matters concerning animal husbandry directly or indirectly thanks to its strong lobby in the national policies, are still missing in the pastoral areas of China in order to carry out mobile animal husbandry in accordance with the needs and knowledge of the animal owners.

 

 

Acknowledgements

 

An extract of this paper, which focused on the revival of nomadism on the eastern Tibetan plateau, was presented at the Ninth Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies (IATS) in Leiden, Netherlands, in June 2000. I am grateful to Toni Huber for comments on this part of the text, and to Jouko Kumpula who commented the part on reindeer husbandry. The research project in Sichuan in 1990-1992 was carried out in cooperation with the Chengdu Institute of Biology and was financed by the Volkswagen-Stiftung, Germany. More recent field trips to Dzoge county, which were financed by the Academy of Finland, provided comparative data. Thanks to the anonymous reviewers who gave thoughtful comments on an earlier version of this article.

 

 

Notes

1During the field-research in the early 1990s, the nomads as well as the officials did not give much information.

2The absolute numbers are less important than the trend.

3For other Saami groups like the Coast Saami or River Saami, reindeer husbandry never was the main means of subsistence.

4The Reindeer Pasture Agreement was revised in 1950.

5Paine (1994, p. 155) asks at what point the spiraling of competition through mechanisation will stop.

6Round-up fences, enclosures for winter feeding and fences as borders.

 

 

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