Expeditions in remote and less explored districts of Arunachal Pradesh

Date Posted: 30-11-2019

A multi-crop exploration was carried out in parts of Upper Subansiri and Lower Subansiri districts of Arunachal Pradesh during 12-22 November, 2019 by involving collaborator from ICAR-NEH, Regional Centre, Basar, Arunachal Pradesh. Upper Subansiri is one of the country's 250 most backward districts and also a less explored from germplasm collecting point of view. A team consisting of Drs. K C Bhatt and Kuldeep Tripathi surveyed these remote and less-explored districts and collected 46 accessions representing cereals (5), millets (3), pseudocereal (4), pulses (5), oilseeds (10), fruits (3), vegetables (10) and crop wild relatives (6). Targeted districts are having very distinct and difficult mountainous terrains and most of the land is barren and inhabitation is scanty. These districts were having distinct ethnic culture affiliated with Tagin, Galo, Apatani and Nyishi tribes. The North Eastern tribes are known to be self-sufficient as weaving fabric to performing Jhum cultivation makes them self-dependent. Local beer preparation popularly known as Apong (prepared from rice and finger millet) is among the most common way of relaxing among the tribes. Tremendous diversity was observed among wild leafy vegetables (Clerodendrum glandulosum, Corchorus olitorius, Zanthoxylem rhetsa, Spilanthes clava, Solanum nigrum, Pouzolzia hirta, etc.) also grown in kitchen garden for their own consumption and selling in local markets as earning source. A rare germplasm considered as close wild relative of adzuki bean namely Vigna angularis var. nipponensis was also collected from Lower Subansiri district. Farmers in certain remote places are still cultivating their local landraces of rice, finger millet, coix and soybean under rain-fed conditions, while pulses like cowpea and ricebean were limited to kitchen gardens. In Jhum cultivation, about 10-18 crops are being taken up by the local farmers. Kiwi from Ziro area of Arunachal Pradesh is now attaining global recognition due to its good and quality production. Apatani tribes of Hong village have also developed skill to produce organic kiwi wine which is boosting revenue of the region. Rich orchards of oranges in Upper Subansiri and large scale cultivation of large cardamom in Lower Subansiri districts were some interesting observations. Besides collection of targeted crops, Herbarium specimens of unrepresented species were also collected during trip.
In another exploration, a team consisting of Drs. R S Rathi and Rakesh Bhardwaj surveyed different remote and less-explored localities (Aalo, Kaying, Payum, Tato, Monigong, Yomcha and Mechuka) inhabited by Galo, Adi and Bhutia tribes in West Siang, Siang and Shi-Yomi districts of Arunachal Pradesh were surveyed and collected 66 germplasm samples belonging to cereals, millets & pseudo-cereals (32), pulses & grain legumes (8), oilseeds & leafy vegetables (7); vegetables & Spices (7) and other economic plants (Rubus rugosus, Sorbus aucuparia, Pyrus pashia, Citrus spp., Sauropus androgynus, Trichosanthes cucumeri, Livistona jenkinsiana, Coix lacryma-jobi, and Corchorus capsularis). The farmers of surveyed localities are mainly cultivating maize, rice, finger millet and French bean followed by foxtail millet, buckwheat, chenopods, ginger, orange, banana, pineapple, colocasia, chilli, pumpkin, chow-chow, sesame, mustard, pigeon pea, mustard, cauliflower, cabbage, tomato and potato etc. as mixed crops in jhoom fields under rain-fed condition. While under irrigated field’s farmers are taking only rice and few vegetable crops. Horticultural crops including citrus are growing in large area. In some pockets, settled agriculture was also being practiced, hwever majority of the farmlands/ jhums have been converted in to the orchards of oranges, kiwi, banana, palm oil tree, large cardamom and rubber plants. Good variability was observed in French bean, maize, chillies and rice.

(Source:  Dr. Kailash Chandra Bhatt, ICAR-NBPGR, New Delhi)