Preserving Alpine Herbs in Dhitachaur

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Preserving Alpine Herbs in Dhitachaur

The government should focus on overseas markets where Nepali products may have some comparative advantage.


Every civilization is basically based on biodiversity, history and geography. Karnali Province is unique in its immense natural resources like water and medicinal herbs. Beautiful landscape, language, culture and history all are the major attractions of Karnali. Both the Nepali Language and Sinja/Khas civilization are believed to have originated in Jumla, Karnali. However, most of the districts in Karnali lie in the remote and underdeveloped region in terms of human development index, road, electricity, education and accessibility to public services.

The Department of Plant Resources (DPR) has a motto “Plants for Life''. It is a scientific authority of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in plant resources in Nepal. The Department of Plant Resources (DPR) has 12 botanical gardens in nine districts representing major ecological zones.

Most of the people consider that botanical gardens and Parks are the same. But, Botanical Gardens are the living museums of plants and their core objectives are i. in-situ and ex-situ plant conservation with scientific basis ii. Research, Education and Training iii. Recreation and iv. Environmental services and livelihood support. Instead, the urban parks are primarily focused for peace, recreation and revenue.

One of the Botanical Gardens of Nepal is the Dhitachaur Botanical Garden spread over about 5 hectares in Dhitachaur-5, Jumla. This botanical garden is located 2450m above sea level representing alpine zone. It was established officially in 1998 under District Plant Resources Office. The local people recognise it ‘Keshar Kheti Karyalaya’ as it had introduced the first cultivation of Keshar (Crocus sativa) in the Karnali. The Keshar is the most expensive spice in the world with high value with low volume.

After conducting the Organization and Management Study four years ago, the office was restructured into Plant Research Centre, Jumla. This writer was deputed as the chief of the centre from October 2020 to July 2022. The office is allocated a budget of Rs 17 million annually mainly for two programmes. The first is Herbal Development Program, while the second is Plant Research, Conservation and Garden Development. Despite the COVID pandemic, we managed to accomplish some significant work. We built a new office building with an information centre and ticket counter. Though we were assigned only a limited budget for the construction of the office building, we somehow managed to build an information centre with a ticket counter with a budget of Rs 5.5 million.

Power cuts are a perennial problem in Jumla. While the rest of the country is already free of power cuts, the district still suffers from load-shedding. Therefore, micro hydropower is a reliable source of electricity compared to the supply from the national grid. So, what we accomplished was the electrification of the botanical garden in March using a micro hydropower project with zero budget. The project was inaugurated by Mohan Dev Joshi, Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Forest, Karnali Government. Round-the-clock power supply has made a significant impact in the botanical garden in terms of security. Now, security staff do not hesitate to work at night. It became possible even though budgetary allocation was not made for the project. There, however, was some budget for the installation of solar lights in the garden.

The centre continued its research on germplasm collection and maintenance of various herbs like  Atis (Delphinium hiimalayi) and Tukifool (Taraxacum officinalae). The garden has conserved more than 100 plant species.  

We also organised study visits to several botanical gardens for our staffers. Some of them had never been to Kathmandu. The team visited Maipokhari Botanical Garden in Ilam, Mulpani Botanical Garden in Salyan, and National Botanical Garden in Lalitpur. During the visit, we exchanged germplasm seeds, bulbs and plantlets to enrich germplasm numbers and enhance the work experience. The initiative was highly appreciated by the Department of Plant Resources. Realising that such visits could be crucial in sharing experiences among experts and staff of botanical gardens across the country, the department has endorsed ‘Inter-garden Visit Program’ as a new activity for all botanical gardens. All the details have been provided in ‘Swat Prakashan Sangraha’ 077/78 as an annual report with its ISBN: 978-9937-1-2159-0. It was the first publication in terms of ISBN material and respecting the Right to Information Act, 2064.  

1.Dhitachaur Botanical Garden should proceed to achieve the membership of the Botanical Garden Conservation International/BGCI to be recognized internationally.

2.Regional Herbarium establishment for scientific identification of High Altitude Plants (2500-5000 m) at the DBG. Similarly, the establishment of seed gene bank that will be the ‘Centre of Excellence’ for the students, researchers around the world. Indeed, it will support the research tourism as a part of quality tourism.

3.Publication of Regional Flora, Check Lists, Monographs and Hand Books associated with Traditional Knowledge/TK (including local dialect in ‘Khas Bhasa’) to protect bio piracy or gene robbery.

4.Integrated Farming (Herbs and Crops e.g. Atis with Apples, Keshar with  Apples) should be established. And the distribution of Grant/Loan/subsidy should be provided based on the production (kg) rather than plantation (number). It can avoid the biasness and influence on resource distribution and helps to promote the capacity of real farmers.

5.Furthermore, insurance policy for the Jadibuti/herbs should be implemented effectively.

6.Memorandum of Understanding/MoU with Karnali Academy of Health Science/KAHS, Karnali Technical School/KTS Jumla and Ayurvedic and Veterinary Hospitals.

The Writer is Senior Research Officer at Department of Plant Resources, Government of Nepal.

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