Monday, 20 April 2015

A taste of mountains

The wild edible plant of Indian Himlayan Region –Jakhiya or Cleome viscosa is found in tropics throughout the world and is used in traditional medicine in many parts of India and outside. Almost all the parts of the plant are used for treating diseases. The spices grow in the wild or in fallow land of the region. The Indo-Mongoloid Bhotia tribe of Garhwal has traditionally collected it from Alpine and dry temperate forests but also cultivate it in low altitudes.

As Shalini Dhyani writes in a recent article on the plant, "After having satisfied my taste buds with a variety of spicy and not-so-spicy foods, I can say that Garhwali food is undeniably tasty." But it is not easy to get, to taste has to plan a trip to Uttarakhand and look for home-stay options rather than commercial establishments.

A 1999 study by R K Maikhuri of Almora-based G B Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment and Development, published in the journal of Economic Botany on the agro-ecological significance of jakhiya says it is not a commercial crop because most of it is consumed locally. People collect the seeds and gift them to their kin living in areas where jakhiya does not grow. As the unique tang and essence of jakhiya has gained popularity, the demand for its seeds has increased in the region.

According to an article published in the International Journal of Research in Pharmacy and Chemistry, the high protein, amino acid, and mineral content of this plant can make it a crop of high economic importance. Another recent publication in the Indian Journal of Experimental Biology says Cleome viscos can be considered an efficient source of biodiesel. Oil of the plant has all the properties which jatropha and pongamia have. A plant to watch out for both in terms of potential for sustainable economic development and in the struggle for indigenous peoples rights and food sovereignty.

Shalini Dhyani's full article at http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/taste-mountains
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