Download Sustainable Horticultural Farming in the Mountain

yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the workof artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts

Environmental determinism wikipedia , lookup

Tarim Basin wikipedia , lookup

Sustainable Horticultural Farming in the Mountain Regions
- A Case for the Pindar Basin of Central Himalaya
Vishwambhar Prasad Sati, Ph. D.
Associate Professor and Head
Department of Geography
Eritrea Institute of Technology
P. O. Box 11370, ASMARA
Eritrea, N. E. Africa
E-mail: [email protected]
Economic backwardness and fragility of the terrain in the mountain areas demand more
attention for sustainable development and restoration of environment. Traditional
cultivation of cereal crops could not meet with the food need of the inhabitants. Keeping
with food insecurity in mind, the inhabitants of the mountain region are being outmigrated in the foothills and plains of its surrounding. These crops are not much
economically viable. Horticultural practices including cultivation of fruits and vegetables,
on the other hand, are more suited for economic development and environmental
restoration. To maintain environmental restoration and food security, sustainable
horticultural farming is indeed inevitable in these areas.
The study area, the Pindar basin constitutes one of the remote areas of the Uttaranchal
Himalaya. Characterized by rough, rugged and precipitous slopes, this region is very
poor among the poorer regions of the Himalayas. The subsistence cereal crops,
particularly millets, wheat and rice, characterize the farming system. The economic
viability of these crops is just negligible, while, the entire basin has the potential for
growing almost all kinds of fruits and vegetables. The ecological conditions from subtropical to temperate and alpine provide the wide range of suitability for cultivation of
fruits, flowers, herbs and vegetables. Furthermore, the vertical expansion of the
landscape as a form of valleys, mid slopes and high reaches give a base for sustainable
horticultural farming. Already, the cultivation of fruits and vegetables exits in the entire
land but they are domesticated and their commercial viability is unsustainable.
The present paper aims to evaluate the existing potential of horticultural faming in the
Pindar basin, on the one hand and on the other, to discuss ecological conditions, which
are quite suited for sustainable horticultural farming.
Kea Words: Sustainable horticultural farming, ecological conditions, subsistence cereal
crops, economic viability, Pindar basin, Uttaranchal Himalaya
Horticultural practice in the Himalayas has the great importance not only for economic
development but also for environmental restoration. In the entire Himalayan mountain
system, from Jammu and Kashmir Himalaya to Assam Himalaya, the practice of
horticulture is centuries old, which includes varieties of fruits along with availability of
there high quality and quantity. In terms of the Pindar basin, which is centrally located in
the Himalayan system, the practice of horticulture does not get commercial level; only it
is cultivated domestically.
The climatic conditions ranging from sub-tropical (low-lying river valleys) to Alpine and
cold, (highly elevated regions) are though suited for varieties of fruit cultivation, yet, the
benefit of this could not utilize by the residents, who are working in the agricultural
fields. Besides, less proportion of land devoted for fruit cultivation along with domestic
production of fruits, varieties of fruit cultivated in the basin ranging from mango-guavapapaya, stone-net, citrus to apple in the different elevations. Among the citrus fruit,
lemon, elephant citrus, orange, malta, keeno and others are prominent. Along with
cultivated fruits, varieties of wild fruits are also found in the jungle locally known as
danda. Along with this, cultivation of vegetables is also carried out in the slopes of the
basin in different altitudes.
In the Pindar Basin, undulating terrain constitutes the most fragile elements of the
ecosystem. Traditional economy rests on the terraced cultivation with extremely limited
viability to expansion and modernization. Consequently, low economic return remains
the characteristic feature of the agrarian landscape. It is the common experience that
the ecological conditions of the basin are more suited to fruit cultivation rather than
cereal farming (Atkinson 1889 a). Along with fruit cultivation, tea garden practice and
cultivation of seasonal vegetables will boost up the regional economy (Sati, V. P and
Kumar Kamlesh, 2004).
The Pindar Basin is outstanding not only because of its high elevation and its frigid
climate, but also because of the horizontal and vertical differentiation among areas.
From the valley region to the north border, sub-tropical humid and bio-climatic
conditions change step by step in to temperate, sub-temperate and alpine zones
(Atkinson, 1889 b). Horticultural farming is even more overwhelming, owing to the
presence of numerous mountains that transverse and tower above the surface and
have relative relief ranging from 442 up to 7816m. The climate is varied from place to
place depending upon different factors, such as altitude, direction of slope and distance
from snow-clad peaks. Out of these factors, altitude is most important one in
determining broad features of climate of particular region, such as temperature,
moisture and rainfall. Similarly, horticultural farming is also varied from one altitude to
another due to variation in the given factors.
The development of horticulture in the Pindar Basin is the result of the process of
interaction between the physical and cultural elements over a period of centuries.
Although, the role of physical factors in the development of horticulture of the area is
significant as in the other areas of Himalaya, but the present horticultural practice in the
basin has been profoundly influenced by the traditional practices. The basin is passing
through the underdeveloped stage of horticulture because; the populace of the region is
not very much interested to transform their agricultural fields into horticulture on the one
hand, and on the other the farmers have low income.
Geographical Location of the Study Area
The Pindar Basin comprising of 1826.0 km2 extends from 30o N to 30o 18’N latitude and
79o 13’ E to 80o E longitude. It represents the eastern part of the Garhwal Himalaya with
height ranging between 800 m to 6800 m. River Pindar originates from the ‘Pindari
Glacier’ in district Almora (32 km) and flowing an approximate 124 km with its numerous
tributaries, confluence into the Alaknanda River at Karanprayag in Chamoli district. The
watersheds of Ram Ganga in the south, the Saryu in the east, Mandakini in the north
and the Alaknanda in the northwest delimit the basin, giving it a distinct sociogeographical identity. This basin consists of the five community development blocks of
the district Chamoli, viz., Karanprayag, Gairsen, Narainbagar, Tharali and Dewal in
ascending order from lower to higher altitude and a part of Kapkot block in Bageshwar
Necessity for Horticultural Farming
The above-mentioned description in terms of landscape, climatic conditions,
development of agricultural farming and land-use pattern denotes that the Pindar basin
is characterized by undulating terrain, steep slopes, varied elevation, different climatic
zones, low production and productivity of crops and fragility of terrain. The viability of
fruit cultivation is extremely high in view of economic development and environmental
restoration. Because horticultural farming is the economic necessity of the basin’s
people on the one hand and on the other it will help for the conservation of environment
in this ecologically fragile mountain terrain. Furthermore, the climatic conditions are very
suitable for all types of fruit cultivation, particularly for citrus and apple fruits, which can
commercially be grown in the entire basin. In the various vertical climatic zones, fruits
from sub-tropical to temperate can be grown keeping suitability of fruit in view. The
necessity of horticultural farming in the basin is as follows:
1. The entire basin is landslide prone and fragile. To reduce fragility, plantation is
inevitable. If the fruit plants will be planted in these areas, the poverty in the
region would be reduced.
2. The basin is characterized by subsistence cereal farming. Production and
productivity of the crops is very low, even unable to meet the food grain need of
the people. The practice of horticulture would definitely raise the income of the
people and will augment more employment.
The Pindar Basin provides suitable climatic conditions for growing various fruits plants.
From the valley region (500m sub-tropical), which is suitable for production of mango,
guava and papaya to the temperate zone (1800), congenial for apple, citrus and stone
fruits, wide varieties of plants are grown in the basin. The upper reaches of the basin
and its numerous tributaries such as Kail, Pranmati, Kulasari nala, Ming gadhera,
Kaiwar Gadhera, Chopta gad and Ata gad provide an ample humidity and water parting
near snow-clad peaks provides cool winds for apple fruits. Up to 1800 m, apples grow
while 1200 to 1800m, citrus fruits planted. Stone fruits grow along with both apple and
citrus fruits belts.
Horticultural farming in the mountain regions
Horticulture is a much recent land use change, which has succeeded in selected subregions, particularly Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir in the west. A change from
traditional food crop cultivation to agro-horticultural systems succeeded largely because
of economic incentives and monetary profits to the farmers, which were ensured
through government subsidy, and market demands. Horticultural development in central
and northeastern region is so far not as conspicuous as in the western Himalaya.
Environmental and social costs of horticultural development are now being increasingly
realized. Horticultural land use expansion often involves encroachment on forestland.
Demands for packing the marketable produce becomes a pressing factor for
unsustainable harvests from the forestland. Market forces and institutional set-up
created for gearing horticultural development led to economic growth but at the cost of
equity. Prosperous farmers benefited more than small and marginal farmers (Swarup &
Sikka, 1987). Analogous to negative impacts fruit crops in western Himalaya, tea, coffee
and rubber did contribute substantially to economic development in northeastern India,
but also gave rise to social tensions. Social and environmental costs of these
commercial production systems promoted directly or indirectly by the Government were
perceived long after the progression of economic growth. There are a number of wild
trees, shrubs and herbs, which supplement the nourishment of people in the hills. The
knowledge of their uses and productive potential is declining. Reasons for this decline
are many including absence of market, lack of tested technology/methods for cultivation
and value addition, and weak public policies promoting uses of wild edibles.
Distribution of Cultivated Fruits
The distribution of cultivated fruits in the Pindar Basin depends upon the elevation of the
slops. The various type of fruit plats distributed in the entire region, are divided in to five
types; i.e., apple, stone, citrus, nut and mango.
Altitude of the any region and area shows heterogeneity in the climate consequently,
agriculture, horticulture, livestock and other economic activities vary by it resides in the
different altitude. Vertical zonation of horticulture in the Pindar Basin with its intensity
varies from sub-tropical, sub-temperate, temperate and alpine zones but only three
former zones are suitable for horticultural crops. Alpine meadows are very much
suitable for production of herbs. The main fruits of the basin are divided into three types
(Sati, 2004) and they are grown according to the altitude and climates. The main fruits
are as follows:
Apple Fruits
Apple fruits dominate among the other fruits grown in the basin. Delicious variety of
apple fruit is also grown in the some localities in the basin. Mostly the given variety is
grown in the upper reaches of the basin such as Ghais-Blan, Kurur-Kwarar, GwaldomLolti, Kalimati-Janglechatti, Sol-Dungri, Jakh-Dugri, Naini-Noti etc. These localities
come under the temperate zone, which is located above 1800 m elevation from masl.
The other regions of apple fruit cultivation are upper reaches of Pranmati Gad, Ming
Gadhera, Kaiwar Gadhera, etc. Along with apple fruits, stone and nut fruits are also
grown in which pear, peach, apricot, walnut, and nut are prominent. In the similar
geographical regions, wild fruits are grown widely.
Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits are mostly grown in the sub-temperate zone between 1200 to 1800 m
elevation in the middle reaches of the river and its tributaries. Orange, malta, keeno,
elephant citrus, lemon and other variety of citrus are grown in the tributaries of the
basin. Presently, the production is remarkable and they are sold in the regional and
national markets.
Citrus-Stone-Nut Fruits
These fruits are grown mostly in the sub-tropical zone, between 800 to 1200m
elevations in the lower valleys of the tributaries. Along with these fruits mango, guava
and papaya are grown in the low-lying areas of the Pindar Basin below 800 m elevation.
Flowers and Herbs Cultivation
The cultivation of flowers does not utilized in the basin, while it potential in terms of
production and productivity is very high, which can lead the sustainability of the
mountain people. Similarly, herbs are extensively grown in the upper belts of
pastureland. The highest percentage of herbs production (21.5) is shared by the Upper
Kail and Pindar basins, particularly in the Alpine meadows locally known as Bugyals,
such as Bedini Bugyal. There are extensive fields of flowers and medicinal plants
particularly in the higher reaches and they can be cultivated for sustainable
development along with maintaining ecology of the meadows.
Table: 1 Fruits suitable for different altitudinal zones
Name of Zone
Suitable for
Northeast and
West Facing
Temperate: Above
1800 m elevation
Higher riches of the
Pindar and Kail
Apple, Pear, Plum
and Cherry
Suitable for South
Facing Slopes
Apple, Pear, Plum
and Cherry
Sub-tributaries of
Plum, Peach,
the Pindar mostly in Apple, Pear, Apricot
Apricot, Pecan, Nut,
1400-1800 m
the mid to high
and Cherry
and Walnut
Mid slopes of the
Apricot, Pecan, Nut,
Citrus, Peach,
Pindar and its
Chestnut and
Plum, (Low Chilling)
Low-lying areas of
the Pindar and its
Mango, Citrus,
Mango, Citrus,
Low-Lying Areas
tributaries mostly in
Guava, Papaya,
Guava, Papaya,
Below 800 m
the confluence
Source: Adopted from V. P. Sati’s composed ‘Horticultural Development in Hills: A Case
for the Alaknanda Basin’ New Delhi. Mittal Publication.
Table no. 2 reveals block wise land under fruit plants (ha) and production (M. T.) during
1996-97 in four developmental blocks. The production of the fruits is mostly
domesticated, which is not sufficient for sustainable livelihood of the populace and
requires modification in the horticultural farming as a large scale.
Table: 2 Block Wise land under Fruit Plants and Production (1996-97)
Area (ha)
(in M. T.)
Per ha production
(in M.T.)
Narain Bagar
Source: District Horticulture Department of Chamoli
Cultivation of Vegetables
Cultivation of vegetables in the mountain is economic needs as it proved already. The
ecological conditions in the mountain regions are quite suitable for growing various
kinds of vegetables with high level of production and productivity. Most of the areas in
mountain are known for high quality and quantity of vegetables but some areas could
not introduce the commercial scale of vegetables even though having the similar
conditions. The traditional system of farming is prevailing in these areas.
The Pindar basin of the central Himalaya is passing through the transitional stage of
cultivation of traditional crops and vegetables. Recently, along with the motivation of the
government and willingness of the inhabitants, due to high profit from the cultivation of
vegetables, the people devoted their farming land into the cultivation of vegetables
(potato in the highlands and onion in the lowlands). This trend is growing among the
people and now more farmlands are being devoted into cultivation of vegetables.
Though, the possibility for growing almost kind of vegetable is very high.
Table: 3 Production (quintal) and productivity (per ha yield) of traditional crops
and vegetables (2003)
Name of case
study village
Traditional Crops (Millets, Wheat
and Rice)
Vegetables (Potato and Onion)
85 (ha)
460 (ha)
(Rice and
380 (ha)
180 (ha)
385 (ha)
165 (ha)
510 (ha)
(Rice and
65 (ha)
465 (ha)
(Rice and
55 (ha)
370 (ha)
136 (ha)
600 (Onion
and other
(Potato and
(Potato and
500 (Onion
and other
400 (Onion
and other
(Potato and
Source of data: Surveyed by the author
Table number 3 shows the area in ha and production (quintal) and productivity of
traditional crops and vegetables. Six villages with different elevation have been selected
for case study. The study exhibits that the highest percentage of land is devoted for
traditional crops particularly for millets, wheat and rice but depending upon an altitude.
In the high reaches, the land devoted for traditional crops is low in comparison to the
lowland villages. On the other hand, the land devoted for vegetables is less varying in
the low and high elevation. But when we look upon production and productivity it is
highest in the vegetables in comparison to the traditional crops. Thus, it is confirmed
that economic viability of horticultural farming is high in ecologically fragile mountain
terrain, which can sustain the sustainability issues of the inhabitants of the region. In
order to meet the present and future challenges meeting sustainability criteria, the
traditional systems need to be adapted in ways which enhance crop yields but not at the
environmental and social costs (Ramakrishnan et al., 1993).
Efforts For Sustainable Horticultural Development in the Basin
Development regarding horticultural practices in the basin is on the way and in this
regards, the role of government and horticulture department is noteworthy. During 2000
to 2004, the horticulture department initiated the following efforts in the entire basin
(Department of Horticulture-2004):
1. 11 unemployed youths of Pinder Valley were given training on construction of
poly houses and its use, in the Division of Agricultural Engineering, IARI, New
Delhi with view to develop entreprenuership. These youths are now instrumental
in popularising the poly house technology in Uttaranchal hills. They have
prepared another two batches of trained boys for construction of poly house.
2. 150 poly housed have been constructed in Tharali, Narayan Bagarh, and Debal
blocks covering about 39 villages of Pinder Valley.
3. 35 poly houses installed at Kapkot block of Bhageswar District and another 30
poly houses have been fabricated and will be installed shortly.
4. 3 poly tunnels are ready for installation at village Ghesh of Debal block
5. Three solar drying systems have been installed at Debal and Narain Bagar.
These are being used for drying of orange peels, fruits (Apricot) and vegetables.
In this system fruits and vegetables retain their original colour and aroma.
6. Four training camps were conducted on cultivation of vegetables and their seed
production under poly house condition in 2003. Around 85 farmers attended
these trainings.
7. In the poly houses of lower altitudes, farmers are cultivating vegetables like
spinach bottle gourd, bringal, capsicum, chilly, radish, squash, and onion. In
general, the farmers in these hilly regions distribute vegetables to
neighbors/relatives instead of selling. Some farmers are able to sell seedlings
and vegetables in the local market.
8. In high altitude areas poly houses are being used for raising nursery of medicinal
plants like Kut, Kutki, Salam Panja, Dolu, Choru in addition to vegetable crops.
The raised nursery seedlings/saplings of these medicinal plants have been
transplanted out side the poly houses. Growth of these plants is excellent.
9. The inflow of vegetables from lower altitudes/plains to higher altitudes has been
reduced significantly. Few farmers are getting good returns from selling
10. Irrigation facility has been provided to the beneficiaries of poly houses through
pipeline at high altitude village Ghesh. Constructions of these irrigation facilities
have been completed.
11. Documentation on the medicinal plants available in different parts of Uttaranchal
has been planned. This document will contain the information like Local name,
botanical name, medicinal use, photograph, herbarium and other useful
information. So far, information regarding 80 medicinal plants has been
12. Training programme on herbal and medicinal plants cultivation has been
organized at Ghesh village. Around 60 farmers participated in the training
The study reveals the following observations regarding sustainable horticultural farming
in the basin:
Radical changes have been taken place in the farming system.
The marginal farmers changing their traditional system of agricultural farming into
cash crops or off-season vegetables.
The changing pattern of agrarian system can be seen everywhere in the entire
basin but the intensity of change varies from one location to another and lowland
to highland.
Earlier the poor marginal farmers were struggling for two times meals because
most of the traditional crops were not self-reliant and the food-grain need was
based upon the import from foothills and plain region. Presently, most of the
areas of the basin are not only self reliant but also they are exporting off-season
vegetables, potato and onion are main and fruits, particularly citrus and apple to
the regional markets.
Tea garden practices are also carried out on the gentle slopes of the basin
particularly on the course of rivers and roads.
Some of the farmer communities working in the remote areas still don’t want to
shift their traditional land either into cash crops or fruit cultivation.
Although, a large number of families are being out-migrated yet due to the high
growth of population, the pressure on the cultivated land is also increasing.
The production of potato in the highlands and onion in the lowland is getting
impressive position. Similarly, pulses and oilseeds particularly, the production of
soyabeen and mustered oil is remarkable.
The rate of self-sufficiency is gradually increasing among the farmers, but the
issue of food security for the generation next is also getting attention because of
high population growth and declining capacity and capability of land. As it is
observed the population growth rate is high in the Indian Himalaya than to the
rest of the country (2001 census).
In working out the horticultural farming in the Pindar Basin, the role of climate under
influence of altitude, the nature and aspect of terrain seems to be the most unifying.
Fruit and vegetable productivity is directly related with the meteorological conditions of
the area. In the same altitudinal belt, windward and leeward sides offer suitable
conditions for different types of fruit trees and vegetable along with herbs and tea
garden. Besides climate, cultural factors are no less important. In the upper valleys,
relatively low pressure (human and animal) of population also appears to be co-related
with the area under horticulture.
Optimum utilization of the favourable agro-climatic conditions for sustainable
horticultural farming is the need of the hours. While, in the basin, horticultural farming
could not get progressive position. Furthermore, lack of systematic planning was
accentuated by inadequate and improper coordination between different governmental
departments involved in the different stages of development programmes, scanty
attention to the need for and requirements of various infra-structural facilities for sectoral
scheme, inefficiency of the administration in the implementation of programmes, a
multiplicity of programmes to meet the same goals, and faulty criteria for identifying
beneficiaries in assistance linked to employment generation (Mehta 1990). In the field
of horticulture, the basin is lagging behind in any proper rational planning consequently;
the nature of horticultural farming is almost developing and potential. While, diversity in
mountain areas requires a highly decentralized areas-based approach (Papola 1996),
which has to be distinct not only from approaches for the plains, but should also differ
significantly from area to area within the hill region.
Whatever the situation is prevailing in the entire basin in terms of development of
horticulture, it is indeed noteworthy to say that the geographical and climatic conditions
are very suitable for the production of fruits plants both for economic development and
environmental restoration. Now, it is the need of the hour that the land, which is not fit
for growing agricultural crops, should be transformed for fruit plants. Along with this,
community land and some patches of agricultural land should also be converted for the
same purpose. The following suggestions are given for the development of horticulture
in the different zones of the Pindar basin:
1. Fruit belts should be demarcated according to the feasibility of climate and
2. Community land, unmeasured land and barren land, which is otherwise not fit for
cultivation of agricultural crops should be transformed in to fruit cultivation.
3. The entire basin is lagged behind in sufficient cold storage. At lease one cold
storage should be constructed in each micro-drainage basin so that the fruits and
vegetables can be utilized during the off-season.
4. In most of the area of the basin, horticultural products are not sold properly even
high production due to inaccessibility of the place. Accessibility of the horticultural
products areas should be made available so that the fruits can be sold in the
regional and national market.
5. Fruit processing and preservation center should be established in each micro
drainage basin.
6. Herbs are grown in the alpine meadows and these meadows are found
extensively in the basin particularly in the high reaches of upper basin. These
should be conserved and protected widely.
7. Tea garden practice along with horticultural farming should be given full priority
so that the gentle slopes along the roads and streams sides can be fully utilized.
Atkinson, E. T.: 1882: “The Himalayan Gazetteer” Cosmo Publication, Delhi, Vol. II, p.
Atkinson, E. T.: 1882: ibid, p 370
Groetzbach, E. F. (1988). “High Mountains as Human Habitat”. In NJR Allen et al.
Human Impact on Mountains, New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield.
Horticultural Department of District Chamoli. 2004. Statistical Diary.
Mehta, G. S.: 1990: ‘Problems and Potentials of Horticulture Development’ in Singh, A.
K. (ed), ‘Planning Strategies for a Development Region’. Lucknow: Print House.
Nand, Nitya and Kumar, Kamlesh: 1989 a: “The Holy Himalaya” Daya Publishing House
Delhi, p. 36
Nand, Nitya and Kumar, Kamlesh: 1989 b, ibid, p 57
Papola, T. S.: 1996: ‘Planning for Environment and Economic Development in Mountain
Areas: Concepts, Issues and Approaches’ Discussion Paper No. MEI 96/2. Kathmandu,
Nepal: ICIMOD.
Sati, V. P. 2004. Horticultural Development in Hills: A Case for the Alaknanda Basin.
New Delhi. Mittal Publication. p. 123
Sati, V. P. and Kumar, Kamlesh. 2004. Uttaranchal: Dilemma of Plenties and Scarcities.
New Delhi. Mittal Publication.
Saxena P. B. 1988. A Modern Approach in Geography (A): For the Evaluation of Soils
and Land-Form-Systems of Land Use Planning in Himalayan Eco-System of the
Alaknanda Basin (Garhwal Himalaya). Delhi, Concept Publishing Company 38.
Whiteman, PTS. (1988). Mountain Agronomy in Ethiopia, Nepal and Pakistan in NJR
Allen et al. (eds) Human Impact on Mountians. New Jersey: Rowmand and Littlefield.