Gauri Sarin shares her thoughts on her visit to Ladakh
I was invited to attend Save the Himalayas conference where I had the opportunity of meeting Dr. OP Chaurisya of DIHAR DRDO and HH Bhikkhu Sanghasena ji who heads the Mahabodhi International meditation center, a sprawling complex of over 200 acres. We discussed how we could support farmers and the agriculture sector of the Ladakh region which is beginning to face water scarcity.
It was however a discovery to find that seabuckthorn grows in very large quantities in the forest belts. I personally saw the seabuckthorn bushes which are basically harvested and pulped with a pulper process. I met a farmer called Ahmed who did pulping in a village close by. Then he sends his pulp to Haridwar which is then processed into jams, juices and other products. The leaves are used for tea and the seed of the seabuckthorn is used for making oil. These have very high nutrition but unfortunately the farmers get very small returns. The harvesting is done during the month of September. Ahmed is able to send 110 tones of it.
My view was that the food processing of the entire value chain can be done in Ladakh itself and the farmers can benefit from it.
Ladakh is also very rich in barley or sattu. It also has a large number of varieties of apricots and apples. I had a chance to go to Dihar which is the high altitude research center of DRDO and it was amazing to see the range of herbs and apricots over 90 varieties which can be grown in this region. This is really very good opportunity for Ladakh.
So, clearly 3 products identified-
- sattu barley and
There are many other also and it is a question of being able to tap this region. There is very small belt where dry-fruits like walnuts are grown closer to the Pakistan border in a place called turtuk and also a village called shams where this is grown.
So, this is really an opportunity and Ladakh has a lot to offer in terms of high quality wellness space because of its right kind of ecology.