A week ago, my son in law Yidam told me he had something new to show me. We drove a few kilometers from the camp, then branched out on a narrow, steep track to the top of a hill. There, scattered on green hills, was a whole new world, introduced to me as the Lungta Cooperative.
Founded by a group of farmer/herders from Tsayig, Lungta is a groundbreaking enterprise. Begun this year, when a number of Yidam’s cousins requested his help in transforming their livelihood, it is meant to accommodate their skills into the changing world and the opportunities it may offer.
Spread over 100 hectares of rolling hills, the cooperative comprises 140 yaks, six mud colored cabins, a yak hair nomad tent and other tents and is manned by twelve nomad men an women. They built a cheese cellar modeled on the ones Yidam saw in the French alps some years ago and are beginning steps to bring a cheese maker from France or Switzerland in view of making a quality yak cheese as well as packaged butter for the local market.
Another of the cooperative’s projects is to organize stays for city teenagers and young adults and give them a feel for country life in Tibet. The Lungta Coop members worked all summer to build the cabins and cheese cellar themselves. They are proud of their enterprise and look to a new future. One of their first customers will be Norden camp, where their products will be sampled at the highest level.