VoW 2019 / Sessions / November 16 / RSTF-5 “UTTARAKHAND @ 20” “RESTORING LAND FOR PROSPERITY”
Uttarakhand as a Himalayan state has more than 25% wastelands. Blessed with beautiful hills and rich in wild flora and fauna, the effect of globalisation and urbanisation has affected Uttarakhand no less than other states. Being one of the few places in our country where we can breathe without fear, it becomes important for us to protect the hills. Uttarakhand @20, Restoring land for prosperity curated by R S Rawal touched up on the highly anticipated issue of protecting natural resources for sustainable development.
C G S Negi started the session talking about GBPIHED ‘s priority to protect the land and their research and development issues and the approaches taken by the institute. Through the participation of various stakeholders like community people, army and others the institute has made use of the sacred values of the pilgrim places to instil a sense of protection of nature in the mind of the people. He talked about the initiative to plant nitrogen fixing crops in the farmlands to increase the quality of the soil. The institute also trains school children to plant and maintain a garden and also how to protect the flora and fauna.
The other initiatives by the institute include rainwater harvesting, organic farming, improving soil quality and effective space management. Safeguarding the interest of the local people who live on the little benefits of mother nature and the perks they receive for protecting her is also an important focus point of the institute’s initiatives.The session also screened a documentary on the importance of the Garhwal hills, protecting them and the institutions works on it.
The institute also focuses on the cultivation of medicinal plants focusing on low volume- high value aromatic plants, mainly in the Chameli and Uttarkashi districts of Uttarakhand. Eliminating the role of middlemen, the farmers directly sell their produce to the grocers, thereby maintaining the profit of the farmers. Despite all these measures the activities still face a lot of challenges including the lack of interest of the people in farming and less active participation. Privatization and grazing also affect the activities negatively. Incentivizing the plantations also did not work.
Rajendra Dobal, who summed up the presentation of all the panelists talked about the need to conduct result specific researches and the need to have expert marketing advisors working hand in hand with the research in case of medicinal plants. Mr. Lapcha, the next panelist talked about the livelihood options available in the industry of medicinal plant cultivation. He talked about the need to focus on the generic and weed plants as these are the ones that would help the marginalised people in the hills the most. There is need to have fundamental research as far as the industry is concerned.
Dr. Rakesh Shah, apologised for his late arrival and went on to talk about the definition of wastelands. He urged the audience to follow the traditional agricultural practices without wasting time in researching on new models. The models that we have followed from ancient time can be improvised and implemented. Now, this is debatable because our requirements for agricultural produce is entirely different from what our forefathers must have wanted. He also criticized the agricultural department of the government for not supporting the indigenous varieties of the state like the Dehradun basmati.The man – animal conflict was also touched up on the session and indigenous ways to counter the issue.
The session covered ways in which the indigenous methods and modern technologies could be blended and used in protecting natural resources. Sustainable and development initiatives should be researched upon and should be supported by the government is the message.