Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, the state will be planting seabuckthorn this year at the places that are cold desert areas. According to the government, the ecological as well as medical benefits of this bush led the government to take a decision to plant it in the state, a report by The IE said. It is to note that seabuckthorn is a shrub where an orange-yellow coloured edible berry grows. The plant is mainly found in the upper tree line of Himalayan region In India. Areas of Ladakh and Spiti are usually dry, having cold deserts. Commonly known as chharma in Himachal Pradesh, the shrub grows in the wild in Lahaul, Spiti and parts of Kinnaur.
The Seabuckthorn Association of India has noted that 15,000 hectares of land in Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal, Sikkim along with Arunachal Pradesh have this plant. According to the report, there are many medicinal, ecological and economical benefits of growing the seabuckthorn plant. Considered as a folk medicine, this plant is used for treatment of heart, stomach and skin problems. Infact, some scientific research conducted worldwide have backed the traditional uses of seabuckthorn plant. The report citing Dr Virendra Singh, general secretary of the Seabuckthorn Association of India said that the leaves and fruits of this shrub is rich in carotenoids, omega fatty acids and vitamins. The plant is also believed to help troops in getting accustomed to high-altitude.
Apart from this, the plant is a crucial source of fodder and fuelwood. It is also a soil-binding plant which means it is capable of preventing soil-erosion. It can also help preserve floral biodiversity. Singh said that due to pest attacks, many willow trees in the Lahaul valley are dying and this small plant can turn out to be a good alternative in order to protect the local ecology.
The plant also has commercial value and is utilised for production of jams, juices, as well as nutritional capsules. However, seabuckthorn needs to be cultivated on a large scale for it to be a raw material for the industry. The report highlighted that the seabuckthorn association is expecting forest departments of various Himalayan states/UTs to plant this. This can be done on arid and marginal lands with the help of compensatory afforestation or CAMPA funds.
Meanwhile, the union ministry of environment, forest and climate has also asked these states to come up with a proposal where they can take up such plantations. This will help reduce water flow from Himalayan glaciers as well. Abiding to this, the CM of Himachal Pradesh has announced that the government will be planting seabuckthorn on 250 hectares of land in the state. This will be done over the next five years. The association, on other hand, is urging the state government to plant the shrub on at least 2,500 hectares in the state in order to make this project viable.