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Posted at: Nov 18, 2017, 12:44 AM; last updated: Nov 18, 2017, 12:44 AM (IST)

Sangla valley tribals find ways to revive buckwheat cultivation

Villagers in Seraj find new ways to increase their sources of livelihood

Kuldeep Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, November 17

Tribals of Sangla valley have revived the cultivation of buckwheat in apple orchards, while women self-help groups in inner and outer Seraj of Kullu have learnt new ways to increase their sources of livelihoods and healthy lifestyle raising their standard of living.

These findings come to light during a recent visit of these areas by a six-member team of the Department of Science and Technology from Delhi, which inspected the area from November 13-16. The team found that the Himalayan Research Group (HRG), an NGO, which works with local communities in these areas, empowered locals with new techniques that helped them increasing their sources of livelihoods.

Vidya Karan Negi, a member of the Sangla Valley Sustainable Development Society, which works with the HRG said, “The farmers have started cultivating buckwheat, a traditional crop of Kinnaur in their apple orchards after HRG initiated inter-cropping programme, which has almost vanished in Sangla valley. The flowering of buckwheat in late September sustains bees and flora and improves apple fruit setting and soil fertility”.

The team also found that villagers in remote areas of Kullu, Shimla and Mandi districts were using solar energy for water and space heating, preparing cattle feed from maze grain and straw, cultivating high value medicinal (chirayita), specialty mushroom and aromatic plants (lavender and rose).

At village Ladhagi in Anni in outer Seraj of Kullu, the team inspected solar water heating panels, designed and installed by the HRG. Local artisans and women self-help groups use local materials in these, saving fuel wood while women use solar hot water for daily needs.

A local women-self help group leader Vidya Devi said, “On an average we save 50 per cent fuelwood. This has also reduced our dependence on wood by 30 per cent. Besides, we have a healthy household and we devout time to mushroom cultivation rather than collecting fuelwood but the problem remains we need marketing”.

As the good root stocks apple varieties have to reach these areas, the villagers told the team that they need more herbal, fodder and new apple varieties here so that they can increase their sources of livelihoods and employment.

Dr Lal Singh, a senior scientist at HRG, said, “We have good response from the villagers. Thus, we have submitted a core support programme to the Central team for the next five years to boost sustainable development in the targeted areas”.

Dr Singh said the Central team visited Sangla, Batseri and Chitkul villages in Kinnaur and underscored the need to strengthen the infrastructure and some core economic activities to fast track the development.

The Central team comprised of Dr Rajeev Gulyani, Central Sheep and Wool Research Institute, Avikanagar; Prof. H N Panchari, Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore; Dr BK Bhatt, Ministry of New and Renewable Sources of Energy, New Delhi; Dr Rakesh Kimar, Institute of Himalayan Bioresources Technology, Palampur; Dr SS Samant, GB Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, Kullu; and Dr Sunil Agarwal, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India.

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