Gauri Sarin's thoughts on her visit to Himachal Pradesh
I visited Kinnaur district and stayed in Kalpa and Chitkul. Kinnaur district is of course well known for its kinnauri apples. To my shock, I discovered that the farmers were only getting high returns on the kinnauri apples which they were selling. There was almost 30 percent plus wastage of the kinnauri apples post sorting and grading. On discussing with the farmers about what they did with wastage, it seems they didn’t really have too many options except use as fodder.
But the opportunities in processing of kinnauri apple. Also some of the farms are not completely organic, there is use of pesticides, and they are not trained in natural ways of using bio-pesticides.
Apart from the kinnauri apples, there is a lot of potential in that region to grow other fruits; apricots are grown again not to the extent they can be. So, cultivation is not happening and fruits are actually decreasing in that region because realization of the income is not high enough, there is not enough food processing, there is not enough capability of building marketing channels for the farmers there.
This is where I think the opportunity lies and definitely needs to be tapped. Himachal of course has huge potential for organic produce, for other fruits, of herbs, of grains and many other produce which I am still in the process of discovering.
I think more work needs to go into really exploring on the ground.
The traditional foods of the Himachal which can be brought to the urban areas and cities where they don’t have access to fresh hill produce which in terms of quality; nutrition is far better than what possibly grows in the plains.