Agrobiodiversity in Great Himalayan National Park: Challenges for Conservation


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Great Himalayan National Park (GHNP), situated in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh, India, is home to huge diversity of fauna and flora. Having rich bio-cultural traditions the farmer communities residing in buffer zone of GHNP Conservation Area (GHNPCA) have developed multitude of indigenous on-farm techniques (the methods by which inputs are powered) and technologies (the application of knowledge to the production system) for optimal production. Appreciable diversity of agriculture has been maintained through a variety of crop compositions, cropping patterns and crop rotations. Grassroots Institute undertook the mapping and documentation of in situ agrobiodiversity in 2007-10, followed by promotion of on-farm conservation and organic farming practices. Farmers practice polyculture by growing multiple traditional cultivars of millets, pulses, beans, barley, pea, buckwheat, horse gram, maize, wheat, potato and soybean. About 45 traditional cultivars of 15 different crops are being cultivated by the mountain farmers in 2 gram panchayats covering 20 villages in Tirthan Valley of GHNPCA. Results of the study revealed that these traditional cultivars are far superior in characteristics than their counterpart modern or hybrid varieties. However, the old agronomic practices and poor market rates have ever discouraged the farmers to continue growing the traditional cultivars of these crops, and the farmers were forced to adopt hybrid seeds and monoculture. Abundance and sown area of various cultivars also decreased over past three decades. Grassroots Institute addressed the two-fold challenge: one, preservation and re-introduction of traditional cultivars in situ coupled with improvement in agronomic methods of farmers for enhancing the yield; and two, linking the organic produce of the traditional crops with innovative post-harvest techniques and better market opportunities. Challenge ahead lies in engaging large number of farmers in cultivation of genetically-superior traditional cultivars, and in value addition, processing and marketing of organic produce of these crops, so that the livelihood of marginal and poor farmers, which is relatively based on bioresources of national park, can be diversified/diverted and the overall goal of biodiversity conservation is fully achieved.

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  • Thanks for putting up this wonderful report . Working on Grass root level this is sad that the traditional crops are dying and hybrid seeds are taking over .
    We at Local NGO BTCA (Bio Diversity and Community Advancement) is trying to keep these traditional crops alive .Great Himalayan National park is unique Biodiversity with many unique herbs and plants .
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Agrobiodiversity in Great Himalayan National Park: Challenges for Conservation

  1. 1. Agrobiodiversity in Great Himalayan National Park: Challenges for Conservation
  2. 2. When any species orcultivar is lost thecenturies oldtraditional knowledgeabout the same alsodisappear. Itdisbalances themountain agro-ecosystem, farmsustainability andfood security.
  4. 4. Nohanda: 42 cultivars Tung: 19 cultivarsAGROBIODIVERSITY• 15 different crops• 45 traditional localcultivars
  5. 5. GHNP’s Traditional Crops and Its CultivarsMillets: French White (Panicum milliaceum), Ragi or Red Millet:Echinochloa utilis), Red Jhalli (Oplismenus frumentaceus), Finger Millet(Eleusine coracana), Finger White (Echinochloa utilis)Pulses: Mash of Black Gram (Phaseolus mungo), Totru, Maser (Lensculinaris), Chana (Cicer aietenum), KohlBeans: Chittera (urad) (Phaseolus vulgaris), White Chittera (safedurad), Red Chittera (laal urad), Kidney Bean (rajma), White Bean (safedrajma), Kohal, *UIBarley (Hordeum vulgare): Gundev, Shalai, Naked Barley (Hordeumhimalayens), *UIPea (Pisum sativum): Farsi, Lincon, Aurcul, *UICommon Buckwheat (Fagopyrum esculentum): KathuMaize (Zea mays): Shatu, Chuhedani, DuaniWheat (Triticum aestivum): Siraji, Kinouri, *UIPotato (Solanum tuberosum): Dhankhri, Chandermukhi, UptodateKulth or Horse Gram (Macrotyloma uniflorum): KulthSoybean (Glycine max) * UI = Unidentified Local
  6. 6. Erosion of Agrobiodiversity• Monoculture spreading in market-connected villages• High yielding hybrids taking over the traditional cultivars• Cultivation of millets, barley, buckwheat and horse gramdeclined• Yet, certain traditional cultivars of bean, maize, pulses,potato surviving the onslaught of modern agriculture• Traditional cultivars have superior traits vis-a-via HYVs:in terms of yield, survival in harsh geo-climatic conditionsat high altitudes, resistance to water stress/pathogens,total time of crop cycle, adaptation to local climates &farmers’ socio-economic situations, nutrition value, input-requirements, weed coexistence, etc.
  7. 7. Interventions on Agrobiodiversity Conservation• Preservation and re-introduction of traditional cultivars insitu coupled with improvement in agronomic methods offarmers for enhancing the yield;• Linking the organic produce of the traditional crops withinnovative post-harvest techniques and better marketopportunities.
  8. 8. Technical interventions : Formation of Farmers’ Committees at gram panchayat level Promotion of exchange of seeds of traditional cultivars On-farm Training & Counseling of farmers on Organic Production of traditional crops Exposure of farmers to organic farming site On-farm Training of farmers on Quality Control and Post-Harvest Storage Providing on-field technical inputs of organic cultivation, such as - - manipulations in humus levels according to soil types - testing of nutrients in the soil and balancing them - planning the crop rotation and crop cycle - assistance in planning intercropping, storey culture and cover crops - use of compost, manure and bio-fertilizers - compost making and vermicompost - water harvesting and soil conservation - treatment, storage and selection of seeds of traditional cultivars - biological weed control, and bio-pesticides - other necessary technical inputs
  9. 9. Organic Production Organic Grains (of 7-8 food crops) Rajma MaizeQ WheatU KulthA Agronomic Inputs Minor MilletL Finger MilletI Naked BarleyT SoybeanY ________________CON Semi-processingTRO MarketingL Procurement of Grains & Processing6-Grain Aatta
  10. 10. Challenges for Conservation Characterization : •Size/ color/ taste of the seed/ fruit/ tuber, •Nutrition value,Research: •Resistance to pests/ insects/ pathogens/ water stress•Cultivation history•Bio-physical characteristics•Ethnobotany•Economics•Agronomic practices•Characterization of cultivars
  11. 11. Promotion of in situconservation on a scale
  12. 12. • Improving the farmers’ access to national/ international market• Post-harvest processing of traditional crops• Agronomic interventions
  13. 13. THANKSTo All Audience for patience
  14. 14.