India aims to grow sea buckthorn in 1 mn hectare by 2020

Leh: Taking a cue from China, India
today embarked on a major national initiative for commercial
cultivation of sea buckthorn, a medicinal plant found in upper
Himalayan region.

The move includes a pledge by India to bring an area of
one million hectare under the crop`s ambit by 2020 to reach
the level achieved by the neighbouring country.

"We are nowhere near to the three major sea buckthorn
cultivation countries. For instance, compared to China which
has 1.1 million hectares under sea buckthorn cultivation, we
are negligible with just only 11,500 hectares of land for
this purpose," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said at a
workshop here.

Mongolia has 30,000 hectares while Russia is cultivating
the valuable plant in the 47,000 hectares, he said.

It is for the first time the government has focused
attention on the commercial cultivation of sea buckthorn
plants, which has oval shaped and flame-coloured fruits which
are highly nutritious and are a very good source of vitamins,
trace minerals, amino acids, and antioxidant.

The plant is extensively used by China in its traditional
medicines and for other purposes, he said while announcing the
launch of national sea buckthorn initiative.

Ramesh added that agencies like the Indian Council for
Forestry Research, CSIR, ICAR, DBT and National Horticulture
Board working on various aspects of the plant will be now
under the leadership of Defence Institute of High Altitude
Research (DIHAR), which is a nodal laboratory for research
and activities on the multi-purpose plant.

"An over arching national objective of the initiative
will be to bring one million hectares of land area under
sea buckthorn cultivation by 2020," Ramesh said while exhorting
the DIHAR to prepare an action-plan within next two months as
a part of the Green India Mission.

To begin with, in the first phase, Leh and Kargil in
Jammu and Kashmir, Lahul Spiti and Kinnaur in Himachal Pardesh
and Chamoli in Uttarakhand will be targeted for cultivation,
later to be extended to Arunanchal Pradesh in the next five

Priority for cultivation will be on riverbanks and hill
slopes, Ramesh said at the workshop, a first of its kind which
saw participation from locals, representatives from research
institutions and various stakeholders, including farmers, to
promote it on commercial basis.

Stressing that the project success depends on community
participation, the Union Minister said that women`s self
groups will be mobilised to scale up the initiative in the
focus area.


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