Author: Madhusudhan Adhikari
BSc. Ag 7th Semester,
Class Roll No:72
Nepal is rich in indigenous wild and landrace plant genetic resources for agronomic, horticultural, forestry, or medicinal uses, but much of this germplasm remains uncollected and awaits economic development. National Agriculture Genetic Resource Center (NAGRC) or ‘Genebank’ currently conserved 11,051 accessions of more than 110 crops species belonging to cereals (5,850), pseudo cereals (1,150), pulses (1,800), oilseeds (185), and vegetables (565) including other crops (1,501) of orthodox seed whereas crops having recalcitrant seed are conserved in the field Genebank, on-farm genebank and tissue bank at ex-situ in Nepal. Agricultural plant genetic resources (APGRs) are one of the pivotal sources for developing high yielding, stress tolerance varieties to sustain food and nutritional security of the world and Nepal too. a Nepal is the 10thrichest country for agricultural biodiversity in Asia. In the same manner, Machhapuchchhre Rural municipality situated in Kaski district is also a very rich hotspot of agricultural genetic resources. More particularly, Lahachok a ward of this rural municipality is rich in agricultural biodiversity.
Lahachok situated at Gandaki Province, Gandaki zone, Kaski district and Machhapuchchhre Rural Municipality having Latitude: 28.306944°, Longitude: 83.928897°, elevation: 1175 m above sea level is situated North West of Pokhara Valley. Lahachok receives an average rainfall of 3900 mm throughout the year. The average summer temperature is 20.9 0 C (night) – 30.60 C (day) and average winter temperature ranges from 7.10 C (night) – 19.70 C (day). This has supported for high agricultural and natural vegetation growth and diversity. Thus, this area is very rich in agricultural genetic biodiversity.
Lahachok is major area for both wild local varieties of cereal, fruits and vegetables crops. Wild relatives of wheat are available in this rural municipality. Aegilops and Agropyrum species of wheat have been documented.
Many indigenous rice landraces like Anadi, Tauli, Makai khole, Ghaiya, Aanga are vanishing from general cultivation. Similarly, Gurdi, Pahele, Naule are still being cultivated local variety of rice. Improved and hybrids varieties of rice such as Hamsapure, Basmati, Pokhareli Jethobudo, Pahele, Janaki, Radha-7 etc are being cultivated. Covered and naked barley (Jau and Uwa) are commonly available and used for diverse purpose including religious use by people around here. Only local rato makai is grown with no introduction of hybrid and improved varieties by farmers still at Lahachok. Kathe variety of wheat is commonly cultivated local variety of wheat whereas farmers also started to adopt improved varieties of wheat for higher production. FingerMillet local types like Jhyape, Dalle kodo are cultivated for consumption. Buckwheat is not cultivated and available in Lahachok area.
Wide diversity of vegetable crops has been recorded in Machhapuchchhre RM and Lahachok area. These include wild relatives of Colocasia (three spp.), Amaranthus (four spp.), Chenopodium (two spp.), Pisum, Alium, Ipomoea (five spp.), Dioscorea (four spp.), Mentha, Solanum (two spp.), and Curcuma. Crops like cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, radish, carrot, pea, spinach, potato and lettuce are commonly cultivated during winter season whereas crops like beans, cucumber, sponge gourd, ridge gourd, bottle gourd, zucchini, bitter gourd, chayote, tomato, chilly, capsicum etc are commonly cultivated during summer and rainy seasons. Similarly, okra, brinjal, beans, coriander, onion, garlic are other vegetables and spices grown in this area.
Hybrid varieties of cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli are cultivated and have no local variety known in cultivation. Similarly, variety like 40 days, pyuthane, khumal etc are varieties of radish, hybrid varieties of carrot, onion are grown whereas, both local and improved varieties of pea, garlic, cucumber, and all other cucurbits vegetables are grown. Local cowpea is grown mixed with maize, local tomato and hybrids variety like Srijana, Onsari are grown in commercial scale. Tree tomato is available in lahachok area which is great resource for genetic improvement of cultivated tomato species. Local variety of potato is popular both for commercial and subsistence production whereas local and improved varieties of chilly like Akabari are grown. Local variety of chayote is popular in Lahachok and even with possibility of higher production with hybrids, farmers still practice using local varieties over hybrids due to cost of seed replacement every year.
Legume & Oilseed Crops:
Legume crops like soybean, lentil, blackgram, pigeon pea and rice bean are cultivated for pulses. Kause variety of soybean is popular, local lentil and kalu variety of blackgram are popular too. Local variety of rice bean and Rampur arahar-1 variety of pigeon pea is being under cultivation.
Groundnut is popular oilseed crop grown in Lahachok area. Spreading type of local variety of groundnut is very popularly grown by farmers and there is very low adoption of improved varieties of groundnut, rapeseed and mustard too.
Two species each of Barberies, Ficus, Pyrus are documented as temperate wild fruit relatives. Similarly, subtropical wild fruit relatives having more than one species are Annona, Citrus, Musa, Foenix and Rhus. Aiselu, Kafal Mathaino, Chutro like wild fruits are available abundantly in forest. Fruits like Lahare Aap (Vine mango) is available in wild form, whereas local peach, pear and plum are abundantly grown and commonly available. Similarly, recommended varieties of guava are being introduced along with local variety being cultivated. On other hand, Khurpani, Mandarin, Lemon (Nibuwa) are found locally cultivated whereas wild relative of lemon Bibiro is available which can be used for genetic improvement of lemon and lime. Some local variety of banana and cultivar like malbhog are being cultivated in small scale.
Introduced species of Coffee and tea are available in higher elevation of lahachok which are in very few numbers but local ginger and turmeric species are cultivated in large scale which are also potential source for improvement of released variety of Nepal. Cash crops like tobacco are found in weedy or wild form and there is no domestication of such crop whereas cardamom is completely abstinence in cultivation. Local sugarcane is found scattered in small place but recommended varieties of sugarcane is of no cultivation in this area. Cotton, Jute and Tobacco are not ecologically adjustable.
Conservation of available agricultural genetics resources is very poor in Lahachok area. There is no gene bank for seed collection and conservation. NARC and other governmental sectors have not been engaging in any types of conservation of these genetic sources. Local people make selection among the produced product for seed purpose locally without knowing the importance of quality seed and conservation of genetic resources. Sharing of local seeds and cultivars is common among people rather than purchasing improved and hybrid seeds regularly. This has caused no improvement in genetic quality.
However, in situ conservation of wild and weedy varieties and species of crops and fruits are being done. This has been practiced for wild edible plants and wild relatives of cultivated crop species. The sites where, important wild edible plants and wild relatives exist are planned to conserve in collaboration with Annapurna Conservation Area (ACAP), religiously and culturally protected sites, heritage sites and community areas including different types of forest management such as lease hold forest and community forest managed by public and private institutions and communities.
Lahachok and Machhapuchchhre RM both are rich in agricultural genetic biodiversity. However, current status of cropping pattern and cultivated varieties and species are mostly of local origin and exchanged among farmers. There is no practice of proper selection and procurement of seed and planting material by farmers which have caused low production and productivity. Education and information regarding agricultural diversity, genetics, seed quality and process of maintaining quality seed and their conservation, their importance for future crop importance and such related must be delivered to farmers and local people.
Thus, it has been eternal importance for protecting local and wild species and varieties of cultivated crops in this area for future crop development and improvement. Research institutions and NARC must support and aware people about present status and future value of genetic conservation. It needs to locate species that needs to be conserved and develop strategies to protect their habitat collaborating with relevant stakeholders.