Status of Agriculture Genetic Resources of Rukum East district

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Eastern Rukum is a mountain district of Lumbini Province of Nepal. It contains over sixty percent of Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve in the western section of the Dhaulagiri mountain range (the rest lying in the Gandaki Province). It is also the only mountain district of the province with its tallest mountain Putha Hiuchuli (Dhaulagiri VII) situated in the west end of Dhaulagiri II mountain chain, at an elevation of 7,246 meters. Eastern Rukum has been among the top travel destinations of Nepal as designated by the Government of Nepal.

The district is known for its 52 lakes and 53 hills. Guerilla trekking route has also been developed in the district as an adventure tourism following the past trails of the Maoist rebels in the base of Himalayas providing experiences of scenic landscapes, Dhaulagiri mountain ranges and rich Kham Magars culture.

The total area of Eastern Rukum District is 1,161.13 square kilometres (448.31 sq mi) and total population of this district as of 2011 Nepal census is 53,018 individuals.The district is divided into 3 Rural Municipalities and there is a large reserve area named Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve.There is no Municipality in this district.

East Rukum

Climate and Geography

Eastern Rukum district is the northernmost part of Lumbini province, and it’s only mountain district. Most of the district is drained by west-flowing tributaries such as Uttar Ganga draining Dhorpatan Valley and to the north of that the Sani Bheri draining southern slopes of the western Dhaulagiri Himalaya.

Elevation may range upto 6,000 meters in the Dhaulagiri with a range of climates from subtropical to perpetual snow and ice. Agricultural use ranges from irrigated rice cultivation through upland cultivation of maize, barley, wheat, potatoes and fruit, to subalpine and alpine pasturage reaching about 4,500 meters.

The climatic condition of the district can be classified into six types:

Climate ZoneElevation Range
Upper Tropical300 to 1000 m
Subtropical1000 to 2000 m
Temperate2000 to 3000 m
Subalpine3000 to 4000 m
Alpine4000 to 5000 m
NivalAbove 5000 m

Current Situation of Agrobiodiversity and Genetic Resources

Land Use Area

LandAreaPercentage
Agricultural Land20265 ha17.85
Water areas343 ha0.3
Forest area59748 ha52.63
Meadows and Pasture5655 ha4.98
Area cover by snow2476 ha2.18
Fallow land25036 ha22.05
Total113523 ha100

According to the latest NATIONAL SAMPLE CENSUS OF AGRICULTURE 2011/12, the cultivated areas are of the Rukum District which was not divided into East and West Rukum at that time. However some of the major crops cultivated are mentioned below.

Plant Genetic Resources

Cereal Crops

Paddy, Maize, Wheat, Barley, Oat, Buckwheat etc. Wheat is the main crop in Rukum East and the climate is most suitable for wheat production. Winter maize are grown rarely and summer maize is grown in the lower region .The production of paddy takes place at the lower region from 800-1500 meters. Due to different constraints like stony soil conditions ,sloppy areas with high infiltration and leaching as well as uneven irrigation facilities , the production is quite low in the upper areas.Likewise, buckwheat being the best crop in higher altitude in terms of adaptation to different climatic variables and easily fitted to different cropping patterns due to short duration, it is cultivated in the marginal lands. Local landraces of buckwheat like Barule, Chuchche, Chode ,Kalo, Mithe, Seto .Tite etc. are grown.

Vegetables and Fruits

They are the major vegetables and fruits produced in Rukum east are Tomato,Potato, Radish,Cucumber, Sweet Potato, Onion, Garlic, Turmeric, Cardamom, Ginger,, Pumpkin, Okra,, Bittergourd, Pepper, Crucifers, Scush, Orange, Lemon, Mandarin, Apple, Pear, Peach,  Pulm, Walnut etc. and Rukum east is a popular district for vegetable seed production. Likewise, Walnut production is also becoming popular there. Walnut Zone (PIU) is working for the extension of walnut production area as well as the inreacrement of productivity.The main varieties of walnut found are local varieties of Thinshel, Payne ,Hartley etc. and improved varieties of Franquette, Fernet, Chandler and Fernor.

Aquatic plants

The submerged roots of Lotus species are widely used against the treatment of various diseases like jaundice and heart diseases ,along with its use as vegetable consumption and pickles.

Fishery Genetic Resource

Asala, Buduna, Rohu ,Sidra, Bhoti and cold water fishes like Trout,Sahar, local( Fittey) are found in the rivers and ponds of Rukum East.

Animal and Birds Genetic Resource

Lime, Parkote, Gaddi are the indegenous breed of buffalo whereas Naumuthe Gai andLulu are the indegenous breed of cattle found in Rukum East. Mainly, Cattles are reared more than buffaloes. Similarly, species of goat like Khari, Sinhal, Jamunapari,Chyangra etc. are rared more widely than the species of sheep like Bhayanglung, Baruwal, Kage. The Chyangras are mainly found in the upper belts of Rukum East whereas Jamunapari are found in the lower belts.

Likewise, breeds of poultry like Ghatikhuile, Pwakhultey, Sakini and other local breeds are reared in Rukum East. Kalij and Jungle Fowl are found as wild and somewhere reared also.Kasturi mirg (Moschus Chrysogaster), Nuwer, Rato Bandar(Macaca mulata), Ghoral(Naemorhedus goral), Leopard(Panthera pardus), Bear(Ursidae sps), Kharayo(Oryctolagus cuniculus), Syal(Canis Aureus), Dumsi(Erethizon dorsatum), Danfe(Lophophorus impejanus), Munal(L. impejanus), Chyakura(Alectoris chukar),Kaliz(Lophura leucomelanos), Dhukur(Streptopelia chinensis), Jureli(Pycnonotus leucogenys), Kande bhyakur (Turdoides  nepalensis), Himalayan quail etc. are also found.

Rivers

There are almost 45 small and big rivers. The major rivers of Rukum east are Sani Bheri, Lukum Gaad, Pelma Khola, Ranma Khola, Ruji Khola, Chunwang khola, Korja Khola, Chip khola etc. they are the major sources of drinking water, irrigation, electricity production and fish farming.

Forest

Forests are declining day by day due to deforestation as the major household fuel and  materials are forest products like timber, woods, fodders, grasses and stones.Community forest: 127 ha, Government forest: 16 ha, Private forest: 7 ha.

Herbal plants

Yarsha Gumba(Ophiocordyceps sinensis), Panchaule (Dactylorhiza hatagirea), Kurilo(Asparagus officinalis), Timur(Xanthoxylum armatum), Dalchini(Cinnamomum zeylanicum), Gurjo(Tinospora cordifolia), Ketuki(Agave americana), Badalpate, Bojhoo(Acorus calamus), Harro (Terminalia chebula), Satuwa(Paris polyphylla), Kumkum(Mallotus philippensis), Chiraito(Swertia chirata), Jatamashi(Nardostachys jatamansi), Bhayalo(Thysanolaena latifolia), Chiuri(Diploknema butyracea), Chothro (Berberis asiatica) etc.

Conservation of Biodiversity

In-situ Conservation : Conservation of organisms in their natural habitat. There is the presence of Dhorpatan  hunting reserve having an area of 1325 sq.km. There are 852 blue sheeps including leopard, goral, serow, Himalayan tahr, Himalayan black bear, barking deer, wild boar, rhesus macaque, langur and mouse hare. The reserve is home to 137 sps of birds. Pheasants and partridge are common and their viable population in the reserve permits controlled hunting. Endangered animals in the reserve include Musk deer, Wolf, Red panda, Cheer pheasant and Danphe.

Ex-situ  Conservation : Farmers store the agriculture materials in their home for seeds and consumption purposes mainly rustic storage for potato, maize and rice storage in bhakaro, wheat storage in metal bins etc.

Genetic Erosion and its management

Indigenous varieties or traditional varieties of various commodities are in danger and even some of them have been lost too with advancement and modernization in the agriculture sector and use of new improved hybrid varieties of agricultural crops.Risk and diversity loss are unavoidable circumstances that are caused by new hybrids and improved varieties. Such loss of genetic diversity is a common threat to the sustainable use of plant genetic resources. Various biotic and abiotic factors are directly and indirectly affecting the genetic erosion and loss.Climate change leading to erratic rainfall, flood, landslides, debris flow, droughts, hailstones, temperature change along latitudes and many more natural factors are responsible for the diversity decline.

The trend of importing should be extremely minimized or discouraged,as genetic erosion is speeding up due to import of new exotic varieties,and thus encouraging/promoting the cultivation of our own indigenous germplasm.Effective germplasm collection (elimination of duplicates) and conversation is the must for the purpose.  Available local landraces and available endangered genotypes should be encouraged for multiplication and varietal development. There is a need for extensive characterization, evaluation and tagging of economically important traits to facilitate and utilize the plant genetic resources. Thus, these ways could possibly aid a lot in better Plant Genetic Resources Management in Rukum East district.

Conclusion

Rukum East, being situated in the higher hills of Nepal, accommodates diversified agricultural commodities, forest land , livestock species, medicinal and aromatic plants as it ranges from elevation 800 – 6000m. It has a wide range of climatic variation that encompasses various genotypes and genetic resources of different agricultural commodities like cereal crops, vegetables, fruits, aquatic plants, forest land and livestock species. The agrobiodiversity of this district should be protected.

Written By: Prajwol Shrestha

7th Semester, Agriculture

Agriculture and forestry University


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