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“Plant Genetic Resources Awareness Camp” organized by ICAR-NBPGR Regional Station Srinagar under TSP at village Garkon Kargil in remote Aryan Valley of Ladakh on September 5th, 2021

One day “Plant Genetic Resources Awareness Camp” was organized by ICAR-NBPGR Regional Station Srinagar at village Garkon Kargil in remote Aryan Valley of Ladakh on September 5th, 2021. The Aryan valley is comprised mainly of the villages of Dha, Hanu, Darchik and Garkon situated in Batalik sector on either side of the Indus River. Aryan valley is an isolated green belt of Ladakh inhabited by distinct tribal Dard Aryans known as ‘Brokpas’ with a unique culture; only around five thousand of them are left in the world. The region is famous for delicious apricots. More than 100 local farmers including 45 women attended the camp. Numberdar, the village Head and other elderly and respected villagers were also present on the occasion. The programme started with formal welcome of the guests by Mr. Sonam Dawa, a highly respected person of the village in their traditional way. During the camp Dr. SP Ahlawat, Head, Division of Exploration & Germplasm Collection, ICAR-NBPGR New Delhi, Dr. Faizan Ahmad, Incharge, Mountain Agricultural Research and Extension Station, SKUAST (K) Kargil, Dr. Ringchin, Dr. Birjis and Dr. Najimaana of MARES, SKUAST (K) Kargil interacted with the farmers about importance, value and use of local agro-biodiversity in the nutritional and livelihood security of the tribal people. The need for protection and promotion of local plant genetic resources of apricot, millets, buckwheat, barley, vegetables etc. especially under prevailing climatic uncertainties was also highlighted by the speakers. Apricots called as ‘Chuli’ throughout Ladakh derive the name after nearby border village of Chuli chen where these are believed to have been introduced first. Dr Ringchin of MARES, SKUAST (K) Kargil interacted with the farmers in their local language. Village representative, Mr. Tsering also spoke on the occasion and profusely thanked ICAR-NBPGR for organizing the awareness camp. Some farmers especially gave their feedback indicating the main message of the awareness programme has been conveyed successfully and understood well. Some tourists also spoke on the occasion. At the end Mr. OP Dhariwal of ICAR-NBPGR New Delhi proposed vote of thanks. During the event farmers displayed crop diversity maintained in their fields which was assessed on spot by a committee and cash prizes were awarded to the best three displays. First cash prize was given to Ms. Dawa Angmo, second to Mr. Tashi Ksmber and third to two participants namely Ms. Stanzin Fatopa and Ms. Tashi Yangsbit for some wonderful displays of crop diversity. 100 farmer kits of three small agricultural implements together with 500g of field pea were distributed among the farmers participating in the event. The farmers were served lunch/refreshments as per their culture. Entire population of the area has hailed ICAR-NBPGR in general and ICAR-NBPGR Regional Station Srinagar in particular for organizing an awareness programme in their far-flung area. The programme ended in a joyous mood of locals with traditional dance by villagers in their local attire and headgear decorated with fresh flowers. For all of us it has been really a wonderful and fulfilling experience to organize PGR awareness programme in remote Garkon Ladakh inhabited by a unique race.

(Source Dr Sheikh M Sultan, Regional Station Srinagar)

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