Why all is not lost for this wild berry of Ladakh, seabuckthorn

Seabuckthorn, Ladakh
Despite the challenges, seabuckthorn cultivation and trade has remained a noticeable horticulture activity in Ladakh since 2018 | Image - Eunice Dhivya

A thorny bush with orange coloured berries growing wildly in Nubra Valley in Ladakh fills the landscape of the cold deserts in several villages. For tourists traversing the high altitude Himalayas on their bikes or shut-in four wheelers, these might be just another kind of wild vegetation growing on the mountains. But for Ladakhis, the seabuckthorn—whose fruits, flowers and leaves are said to have medicinal properties used to treat heart and skin—is touted as gold.

Chosen under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘One District One Crop’ scheme in 2020 to promote agri-clusters in 2020, the newly formed Union Territory, however, hit a major roadblock as it lost one of its major buyers—Patanjali Ayurveda Limited.

The Ramdev-led Ayurveda products-giant had in 2015 signed an MoU of transfer of technology with Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), Leh, for manufacturing and marketing of products made out of seabuckthorn berries from Leh.

DIHAR, which develops technology to make life easier for soldiers and commercial markets, blames the decreasing production for this lost deal.

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