Book Review: The Economic and Heritage Plants of Kashmir Himalaya

The vast plant genetic resources of these Himalayan regions, existing in their different gene pools, thus hold vast potential for current and future users for sustained development and well being of its inhabitants.
"Within the North Western part of Indian Himalayas the Kashmir and Ladakh regions have a rich and unique flora and fauna."
"Within the North Western part of Indian Himalayas the Kashmir and Ladakh regions have a rich and unique flora and fauna."Special arrangement

Title of the Book: The Economic and Heritage Plants of Kashmir Himalaya

Publisher: New India Publishing Agency, Pitampura, New Delhi-110088

ISBN: 9789390591640

Year of Publication: 2022

Pages: 402 and 25 plates

About the Author: Dr Nazir Ahmad Zeerak, Professor (Genetics & Plant Breeding), Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology of Kashmir, Shalimar, Srinagar.

About the BOOK:

Within the North Western part of Indian Himalayas the Kashmir and Ladakh regions have a rich and unique flora and fauna.

Though being hilly and mostly mountainous, with varied altitudinal gradients and a variety of macro and micro- climatic regimes, a wide range of economically important plants thrive on their soils, in wild as well in cultivated forms.

Additionally since centuries the native farmer’s selections among the useful indigenous plants for biomass, from the natural stands, and the selective introductions from the Mediterranean, the Europe and other adjacent temperate areas, in the past, has also resulted in accumulation and diversification of enormous plant genetic variability in food plants.

As a matter of fact, the natural geographic barriers of the valley and Ladakh have also indirectly assured such a unique position of isolation to these regions from other cultures that their ethnobotany and local traditions have remained largely undisturbed with the result they are rich in ethnic folklore, traditional knowledge, culture and heritage.

The vast plant genetic resources of these Himalayan regions, existing in their different gene pools, thus hold vast potential for current and future users for sustained development and well being of its inhabitants.

However, over the past several decades these precious resources are now increasingly being threatened mainly because of human population pressures, climatic changes, urbanization, change in land use pattern, deforestation and unplanned tourism.

Also the use of plant resources for rapid commercial gains, over-harvesting, mono-cultures, rapid replacement of adapted and indigenous cultivars by modern high yielding varieties and the adoption of bio-hazardous production technologies have resulted in the loss of many native plant species and the land races of all major crops thus further shrinking the native plant genetic diversity in our food plant.

As we are losing this biodiversity it has become increasingly clear that it would prove catastrophic to the ecology of the region, food security and livelihood resources of its farming communities.

In view of visible losses, global climatic changes, and adoption of international agreements related to sustainable use and conservation of plant genetic resources, there is an urgent need to document, characterise and conserve the left over native biodiversity.

Awareness also needs to be created particularly within farming communities regarding the value of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture.

The task was undertaken by Dr Nazir Ahmad Zeerak, a scientist working in SKUAST Kashmir and he carried out a scientific identification and documentation of the existing plant resources especially in respect of local heritage cum economic plants growing across Kashmir Himalaya, in wild as well as cultivated forms.

The local name, habit and habitat and the traditional use and the related indigenous technical knowledge was also recorded for every plant. In addition, the existing varietal diversity in all cultivated food plants, and their status of cultivation were also recorded.

Scientist has tried to enlist all the native economic plants yet he is of the opinion that keeping in view the regions vastness and difficult terrain the total and complete picture of the diversity for food and other economic plants, needs much more dedication and time and therefore, the information generated on the useful plant species and their uses may, therefore, contain deficiencies or omissions.

The research work, has been presented in the form of a book entitled “The Economic and Heritage Plants of Kashmir Himalaya”. The book is a ready reference source book, contains Botanical, English, Hindi/Urdu, Ladakhi and Kashmiri names of plants of economic importance in Kashmir and Ladakh with brief notes on their habit and habitat, morphology and utility. Approximately1300 plant species and 500 crop varieties existing in its agro-ecosystems in wild and cultivated forms are listed in the book.

The plant species are arranged in alphabetical order of their scientific names, followed by their synonyms, respective plant families, then by their English, Hindi, Kashmiri and Ladakhi names and lastly by their status of occurrence /cultivation. Photographs of about 360 plants ,arranged in 25 plates, are also presented to help the readers in their identification. The indices of English, Hindi, Kashmiri and Ladakhi names of the native plants are appended at the end of the book.

It is hoped that the book, in the form of a dictionary, would be very useful to the students and research workers especially those interested in agri-horticultural biodiversity, ethnobotany as well as culture of the region.

The plant diversity documented shall also prove helpful to conservationists and planners for devising future strategies in the conservation and sustainable utilisation of plant genetic resources for food and agriculture; and also in guaranteeing livelihood resources and cultural identities of the inhabitants of the regions.

Importantly the document, first of its kind, shall serve a documentary proof of local and indigenous plant species and related technical knowledge and may also help in protecting the legal rights of farming communities over them, in light of latest patent laws at national and international levels.

The author appeals to all the conscious citizens, students and plant lovers of this Himalayan region to rise to the occasion and promote public awareness about the economic and heritage plants and their importance towards development and our cultural identity; and to be a part of collective efforts for conservation of this heritage so that our plant genetic resources for food and agriculture, as well as our cultural and social identities are preserved for posterity.

Related Stories

No stories found.
Greater Kashmir
www.greaterkashmir.com