Dharamsala, June 5
Palampur Agriculture University has started an initiative to save and register traditional crops or land race plant varieties being grown in remote areas of the state. Under this drive, the university has moved to get geographical indicators (GI) tag for ginger variety grown in Badhana Kalatha panchayat of Sirmaur and basmati rice grown in Biyala village in Sundernagar area of Mandi district.
Palampur Agriculture University VC Professor HK Chaudhary, while talking to The Tribune, said that during a tour to Sundernagar area he was informed by locals that a special variety of basmati was grown in Biyala village located in remote hinterlands of Sundernagar area. “When I visited the area, the villages informed that at one-time basmati sown in the area was meant exclusively for the royals of Mandi state. The farmers who used to grow this variety of basmati were not even allowed to eat it as it was exclusively meant for the local royal houses”, he said.
Professor Chaudhary further said that a visit by scientists of university to the area revealed that the farmers of village had still protected the seed of basmati. However, since crop yield was low, the area under cultivation had come down. “We are now once again encouraging the farmers to grow their traditional basmati. The university is in the process of registering the basmati rice variety of Biyala under the Plant Variety and Farmers Right Act. We will also profile the basmati rice variety so that the farmers can get adequate price of their tradition variety they have conserved for centuries”, he said.
The VC further said that Badhana Kalatha panchayat is located in remote area of Sirmaur district on the borders of Himachal and Uttarakhand. The remote village is famous for the production of its ginger crop. The villages have developed indigenous peelers with which they peel the skin of ginger and sell it in form of ‘Sondh’ a crushed form of dried-up ginger. The university scientists who visited the village found the ginger produced in the area was unique in aroma due to soil properties.
The ginger is also being registered under the Plant Variety and Farmers Right Act. The university scientists are profiling the ginger for its unique qualities. A GI would also be sought for the crop so that the farmers of the village get better price for their crop, he said.
Professor Chaudhary said that he has directed the scientists of the university working in remote Krishi Vigyan Kendras to look for traditional crops being grown in remote villages and profile them for their unique qualities. Already, red rice variety of Himachal, was found rich in iron and zinc by the university scientists and it was fetching high prices for farmers.
Ginger unique in aroma
Badhana Kalatha panchayat in Sirmaur district is famous for the production of its ginger. The university scientists who visited the village found the ginger produced in the area is unique aroma due to soil properties.
Rice grown for royals
Basmati sown in the area was meant exclusively for the royals of Mandi state. The farmers, who grew this variety of basmati were, not even allowed to eat it as it was exclusively meant for the local royal houses. —Professor HK Chaudhary, VC, HPAU
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