High-altitude, extreme weather conditions in cold desert of Ladakh, making feasible the agricultural activities in a limited period of March to September is a challenge. Despite this, Ladakh has a record of growing 101 types of vegetables in one farming season. AIR correspondent reports on this uniqueness of agricultural production on the occasion of Golden Jubilee of AIR, Leh being celebrated on 25th of this month.
Ladakh has only one agriculture season of six months in a year due to extreme climatic conditions. During this one season, Ladakh grow vegetable crops of over one hundred kinds altogether and has earned distinct in agricultural production. Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), one of the Research institutes under DRDO (Defence Research and Development Organization) broke a national record in Limca Book of Records, seven years ago, for successful cultivation of 101 different types of vegetables in one season at its research fields.
Out of these types of vegetables, 30 crops have been commercialized. Army is major market for local vegetable production and the demand of army during the farming season is now being locally fulfilled by the Farmer Cooperative Society. Farmer Cooperative Societies have recently started to supply of these commercialized crops which become surplus in the month of July to September to outside Ladakh markets as part of establishing customer base in the mainland. The coordinated efforts of Agricultural Research Institutes such as DIHAR and Krishi Vigyan Kendra with the line department have increased from growing of few types traditional roots, different types of vegetable production over a period of time. All these diversification of vegetables have been successful due to technical know-how intervention and research and development. For further promotion of crop diversification, DIHAR distributes saplings of different vegetables from its research fields to farmers at subsidized rate. Similarly, Agriculture Department distributes subsidized seeds of vegetables on every onset of farming in the month of February and March in villages and saplings from mid April to mid May from its lone farm at Leh to encourage the farmers for crop diversification.
Two more research institutes namely Regional Centre of G B Pant Himalayan Studies and Zonal Central Arid Zone Research Institute have been set up after formation of Ladakh Union Territory for Ladakh specific research on agriculture and allied fields.