TRADITIONAL USES AND COMMERCIAL UTILIZATION OF SEABUCKTHORN (HIPPOPHAE L.

) IN MUSTANG DISTRICT, NEPAL Khilendra Gurung* and Vimal N P Gupta** *Siddhartha Herbal Industry, Kathmandu **Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University Abstract
Mustang district is the arid region of Nepal characterized by harsh climatic conditions, fragile soil, low productivity and sparse vegetation. Seabuckthorn (Hippophae L.) is the most appropriate multipurpose option for such region. It has the potential to support high valueadded products, which can be integrated within the market economy, as well as to support the rehabilitation and upgrading of marginal slopes through soil binding and building in mountain areas. Study of Seabuckthorn was carried out in Mustang district on the ground of traditional uses and commercial value. RRA tools and semi-structured interview was conducted with key informants as local healers (Amchis), elder villagers, schoolteachers, hotel and restaurant owners, herders and ACAP staffs. Local people have been utilizing Seabuckthorn as their daily commodity in the form of subsidiary food items, for treatment, fuel wood, timber, fencing, fodder, fixative and polish. Hotel and restaurant owners of trekking route are benefited by exploiting this resource in the form of juice and jam. Still the local people are not benefited from this resource. Programs are required to popularize the plant among local people, so as to establish it as an alternative source of income generation. Key words: Seabuckthorn, Hippophae, Traditional, Commercial, Mustang

Introduction Mustang district, located towards the north of main mountain crest of Annapurna-Dhaulagiri range has created an arid zone, characterized by harsh climatic conditions, fragile soil, low productivity of agriculture lands and sparse vegetation. In such regions, on the one hand, numerous plants served to supplement very limited food resources while on the other hand they were indispensable in the treatment of various diseases (Pohle, 1990). Seabuckthorn (Hippophae L.) is the most appropriate multipurpose option suited for dry mountain areas. It has the potential to support high value added products, which can be integrated within the market economy as well as to support the rehabilitation and upgrading of marginal slopes through soil binding and building in mountain areas (Rongsen, 1992). Seabuckthorn is a native plant of the Himalayas, distributed throughout

northwestern regions of Nepal. In Mustang district, two species of Seabuckthorn viz Hippophae salicifolia D.Don and Hippophae tibetana Schlecht. are identified (Rimal, 1995 and Thomson et al., 1996). Hippophae salicifolia occurred naturally between 2000m-2800m in Ghansa, Kaikukhola, Ghumaune, Letekhola, Kokhethanti, Dhampu, Larjung and Yankinkhola in Mustang. Whereas luxuriant growth of Hippophae tibetana occurred between 2900m-4000m in Lupra, Tsaile, Khingar, Jhongkhola, Chhaingurkhola, Ghami, Charang, Marang, Jharkot, Purang, Dhakmar, Nyamshuk, Lomanthang, Chhoser, Phuwa and Thengar of Mustang. Seabuckthorn occurred on the fragile lands with weak soil composition and unfertile riverfords, mostly on the southerly exposed slopes. Newly emerging plants were grown abundantly along the fords where the associated species were lacking. They invade the barren lands as the pioneer species of secondary succession (Gupta et al., 2001 and Gurung, 2001). The aim of this survey is the first and foremost to document the range of the local people's knowledge on Seabuckthorn and their exploitation for commercial use in Mustang district. Materials and Methods Study Area Mustang district lies in the north-central part of Nepal, between 28 024'-29020' N and 83030'-84010'E. The district covers an area of 3573 sq. km. with elevation ranges from 1372m- 8167m. The rainfall was maximum in July and August (42.3 mm and 41.8 mm respectively) and minimum rainfall occurred in November i.e. 1.6 mm. Similarly, the average monthly temperature at the study site was highest in July and August (140C and 13.80C respectively) and the lowest temperature was recorded in the month of January and February as –3.50C and –2.50C respectively (Anonymous, 2003). Most of the vegetation is composed of scarce and scattered patches of thorny cushion plants (Caragana spp, Astragalus spp, Lonicera spp) showing affinity with the Tibetan Plateau. Sheltered places have junipers, blue pine and birches, while moist ravines and riverbanks have poplars and Seabuckthorn. Stretches of steppic landscapes are found in the upper Mustang region (TISC, 2002). The settlements are predominantly concentrated along the Kaligandaki valley; however, large areas remain uninhabited due to high relief conditions.

Reflective of the varying natural conditions and cultural situation, the population comprise of ethnic composition: Thakali, Gurung, Thakuri (Tibetan ethnic origin), Magar and Kami. The inhabitants of lower Mustang, mainly Thakalis and Thakuris are engaged in the tourist business as owners of lodges and restaurants. Whereas, residence of upper Mustang draw income from animal husbandry, agriculture and carry on small-scale trade of herbs, spices, yak wool and dried cheese in the lower altitudes during winter. It is only in March that all the inhabitants return to upper Mustang for sowing their fields. Methods of Study Different parts of Mustang district were surveyed in March-May 2000, along different transects. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants who were healers (Amchis), shepherds/herders, firewood/fuel wood collectors (esp. women) and farmers who possessed knowledge on the traditional uses of Seabuckthorn. Rapid rural appraisal (RRA) tools were carried out among office staffs (ACAP members), local users/hotel and restaurant owners, local leaders and schoolteachers. They were consulted for traditional uses and commercial exploitation of Seabuckthorn; their local names, parts used, modes of preparation of remedies, diseases treated and methods of their administration. Repeated queries were made with same informants and cross-checked at different places with other informants. The data were considered valid only if at least three informants had similar comments about the usage of Seabuckthorn. Results and Discussion Table: 1 Traditional and Commercial Uses of Seabuckthorn in Mustang district.
Species Local Name Additive foods Vinegar, Pickles, Juice and Jam Vinegar, Pickles, Juice and Jam Traditional / Commercial Uses Medicines Swelling and removal of tooth stain Cold and cough, Acne, Dermatitis, Cutaneous eruption, Breathing and digestive disorder, Relief of Others Timber (Plough making) Fuel wood, Fencing, Fodder, Intercropping, Fixative, Dye,

Hippopha e salicifolia Hippopha e tibetana

Chichi (Thakali) Tora (Gurung)

pain, Asthma, Emmenagogue, Swelling and removal of tooth stain.

Polish metal objects

Source: Field Survey, 2000. Seabuckthorn is very popular in Mustang as Chichi (Hippophae salicifolia) and Tora (Hippophae tibetana). In many parts of Mustang, it is known for chuk (traditional vinegar). Locally processed juice can be stored for many years and used for pickle making. In recent years due to the launching of training programs on jam and juice extraction, especially in lower Mustang (GhansaMuktinath), the species is being popular. The juice worth about NRs 90-150 per bottle (extracted from Hippophae salicifolia) and NRs 230-350 per bottle (extracted from Hippophae tibetana). This has increased the earning of local people mainly for restaurant and hotel owners by selling them mostly to the trekkers. The juicy extract of the fruits in part has been used up by local healers (Amchis) to cure several diseases like skin diseases, cutaneous eruption, breathing and digestive disorders, relief of pain, asthma (both for humans and domestic animals), menstrual irregularity and swelling and removal of tooth stains (Hippophae spp. is mixed with ash). Many people use fruits of Hippophae tibetana as a fixative for dyeing hand woven clothes. They also use the fruit to polish metal objects in boiling juice and afterwards polish with ash. In most parts of Upper Mustang with high altitudinal range and scanty vegetation, Hippophae tibetana fulfills the fuel wood demand. In those areas, almost every house uses stored wood of this species that is kept for use in winters when other options are not there. Beside that, Hippophae salicifolia is established as a good wood producing plant for plough making mainly in lower areas of Mustang. People in most parts of Upper Mustang use Hippophae tibetana as a fence around their fields and house yards and manage them properly. According to them, due to spiny nature of plants, fields are protected from grazing animals and it has resulted in increased crop production. Hippophae tibetana fencing around houses

protect them from the danger of wild animals. In alpine pasturelands of Mustang, all the herders drive their livestock to feed on the green foliage of Hippophae tibetana during early winter (SeptemberNovember). The herdsmen of Lomanthang experienced that sick horses when fed with Hippophae tibetana leaves and tender branches recover and regain the body and hair shine. The natural intercropping of Hippophae tibetana with apples in Ghami and Charang has resulted good yield and quality. This in turn, has enhanced the Hippophae tibetana in agro forestry in those areas. Furthermore, as Hippophae spp. is a Nitrogen fixer, certainly the soil at around Hippophae spp. growing area is fertile. An evidence of this is the public interest of bringing the soil from Hippophae tibetana growing areas and adding that in the cultivated lands in Jharkot. Seabuckthorn User Group (SUG) in Jharkot is now instrumental in protecting the Hippophae tibetana within their area. SUG has levied a penalty of NRs. 500 for cutting or removing a single plant; this has significantly helped in the conservation of Hippophae tibetana population in this area. Still, people of Upper Mustang are not benefited from these schemes even though there is enough stock of resources. They are optimistic with this species as an alternative source of income generation. People's Perceptions About Seabuckthorn • • Lack of proper information regarding this plant. It is difficult to pick the berries from shrub/trees because of thorns on the stems and branches. Some collectors fell plants in order to harvest the berries. Such a method damages the Seabuckthorn resources. Root suckers spread all over the field, thus hindering the agriculture practices. Seabuckthorn is a dioecious plant. In the natural forest, the ratio of male to female is not equal. The quantity of male is often higher and the female are scattered and difficult to harvest. Most Seabuckthorn resources are distributed far away from

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transportation and residence, making it difficult to exploit fully. Conclusion and Recommendations Seabuckthorn has been put to many traditional uses for centuries by local inhabitants of Mustang district. Furthermore, these days the multipurpose plant, Seabuckthorn is viewed as a remedy to a multitude of socio-economic and environmental problems. Being a rich source of cash income and offfarm employment and an effective means of slope stabilization and soil moisture conservation, Seabuckthorn can be extensively used in mountain regions of Nepal to make marginal slopes stable and to boost up the economic status of local of local people. Although exploitation of Seabuckthorn is very suitable in Nepal, various strategies are necessary on a national and local level. • It is necessary to generate awareness to local farmers about the benefits of this plant. They should be aware of the degradation of hill slopes by improper land use, as well as multipurpose benefits of Seabuckthorn on ecology and economy. Proper market for Seabuckthorn byproducts like syrup, medicine, wine, cosmetics, additive food items etc should be extended. Mustang district is one of the hotspot for tourism. Therefore, the Seabuckthorn products can be popularized as Himalayan wild fruit juice and jam. But, it should be noted that the juice making apparatus must be sterilized and product should be served with boiled water/mineral water.

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Acknowledgements We are thankful to TISC/NARMSAP for technical support and ecological survey team members for their painstaking assistance during field trip. We would also like to express sincere gratitude to Ange Gurung (Hotel Sonam, Jharkot), Rupa Thakali (Hotel Larjung, Kobang), Maya Bista (Former VDC Chairman, Charang), Indra Bista (Former VDC Vice-chairman, Lomanthang) and all local inhabitants for their hospitality and valuable information.

References

Anonymous, (2003). Nepal District Profile. Nepal Research associates, HMG/N. Gupta, V.N., V.P. Nepal, D.P. Poudyal, S. Ghimire, K. Adhikari and C.K. Subedi (2001). Ecology and Distribution of Seabuckthorn (Hippophae spp.) Resources in Northwest Nepal. A Report Submitted to TISC/NARMSAP, Hattisar, Kathmandu, Nepal. Gurung, K. (2001). Ecology and Distribution of Seabuckthorn (Hippophae L.) in Mustang and Manang Districts, Nepal. A Dissertation Submitted to Central Department of Botany, Tribhuvan University, Nepal. Pohle, P. (1990). Useful Plants of Manang District. A Contribution to the Ethno botany of the Nepal-Himalaya. Franz Steiner Verlag Wiesbaden GmbH, Stuttgart: 20-31. Rimal, S.P. (1995). Poverty Alleviation by Developing Seabuckthorn. In: L. Shunguang and L. Min (Eds.), Proceedings of International Workshop on Seabuckthorn, Beijing. 41-43. Rongsen, L. (1992). Seabuckthorn : A Multipurpose Plant Species for Fragile Mountains. Occasional Paper No. 20, ICIMOD, Kathmandu, Nepal. Thomson, W., L.P. Dhakal and P. Kjoller (1996). Seabuckthorn (Hippophae L.) in Mustang District of Nepal: Observations on the Occurrence, Use and Potential. A Report Submitted to TISC, Hattisar, Kathmandu, Nepal. TISC, (2002). Forest and Vegetation Types of Nepal. Tree Improvement and Silviculture Component, HMG/N. Vaidya, B.N. (1999). Seabuckthorn, Appropriate for Himalayan Region. A Report Submitted to HMG/DANIDA, TISC, Hattisar, Kathmandu, Nepal.

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