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Ladakh to initiate geo, drone mapping of wonder berry

Commissioner and Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Ladakh, Saugat Biswas chaired a meeting of the apex committee for the development and promotion of Seabuckthorn in UT Ladakh.

Statesman News Service | Jammu |

Having become a wonder cash crop of the cold desert region of Ladakh, the UT Administration has decided to initiate geo and drone mapping for the widespread area under Seabuckthorn.

Seabuckthorn, also identified as Leh Berry, grows in the wild across Ladakh and the adjoining tribal Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur in Himachal Pradesh. It has helped generate economic benefits for residents of these areas.

Commissioner and Secretary, Industries and Commerce, Ladakh, Saugat Biswas chaired a meeting of the apex committee for the development and promotion of Seabuckthorn in UT Ladakh.

The concerned officials from the departments of horticulture, forest and Industries apprised about the status of various Seabuckthorn initiatives; bankable Seabuckthorn projects; geo-mapping and drone mapping for the area under Seabuckthorn; quality control labs; timeline for a model orchard of Seabuckthorn plantation to be developed at Chuchot, tissue culture, quality control lab; royalty collection; gully cutting, location identification, among others.

Biswas urged the concerned officials to ensure that the machinery and different tests that can be performed must benefit the growers and entrepreneurs. He exhorted that sustained capacity building is of utmost importance and instructed to arrange more collaborations with national-level institutions such as NIFTEM, CSIR-IHBT and CFTRI Mysore for skill development.

It was informed in the meeting that 26 progressive farmers engaged in the food processing industry were sent to NIFTEM, Kundli in August for a 6-day training programme on horticulture processing and various food processing technologies. Further, 20 entrepreneurs were sent to IHBT Palampur, Himachal Pradesh, in August for a training programme on food processing and value addition of ODOP products.

Biswas suggested that at least two more cooperatives should be formed by the department of cooperatives. He asked the PMFME team to aid in overall formalizing and financial support. For the model orchard, the officials were directed to prepare a suitable action plan.
Among others, officers of Defence Institute of High-Altitude Research (DIHAR) that is working on cold arid agro-animal technologies, also attended the meeting.

Administrative Secretary, Tourism and Culture, Kacho Mehboob Ali Khan said that the tourism department, Ladakh, is planning to participate in various tourism marts in India and abroad during the ensuing winter season to promote tourism in the UT.

He stated that participation in these marts will not only increase tourism footfall in Ladakh but will also provide a platform for all stakeholders in the tourism and hospitality sector to interact and transact business opportunities with national and international tourism related stakeholders.

He urged the stakeholders to come up with unique promotional videos, pamphlets and other materials required for projecting Ladakh as an exotic tourist destination.

He said Ladakh can take this opportunity to showcase its hidden destinations, highlight Astro tourism, religious and heritage tourism, border tourism, adventure tourism, cultural tourism, geo-tourism etc. and project Ladakh as an eco-friendly and sustainable tourist destination.

He impressed upon the officials and stakeholders to explore alternate trekking routes for boosting tourism in the remote locations of Ladakh.