‘Seabuck thorn’ can help earn bread (dated September 14, 2002)
By Syed Shamsuddin
The prospects of mountain agriculture being scant, there seems no other brisk economic and commercial activity going on to substantially support the people of Gilgit-Baltistan. The per capita income here is at the lowest ebb when compared with other parts of the country in the aftermath of an unprecedented population explosion being witnessed here over the years. The result is poverty with the people getting trapped in its vicious cycle. In such a situation, efforts are needed to remedy this alarming state by seeking innovative alternatives for the present and future generations. A better future can be ensured by harnessing the indigenous resources to bring about an autarky in a sustainable and eco-friendly manner.
All ‘seabuck thorn’ forests may be converted into nurseries on scientific lines to achieve maximal produce. It is also pertinent to re-emphasise on the male and female species of this plant. It has become ascertainable that the ratio of male and female plant is said to be one to nine which is said to be a sine qua non for the abundant growth of the ‘seabuck thorn’ plantation into sizeable forest besides increasing its yield.
The ‘seabuck thorn’ growth in Gilgit-Baltistan needs a veritable boost for which saplings can be initially be drawn from the existing thick forests for transplantations albeit in keeping with the ratio as referred to before.
All future afforestation must be along such places and land spots that are arid and unworthy of being utilized for the traditional mountain farming. This becomes essential for saving more land for giving a genuine boost to the existing mountain agriculture. Projects can be undertaken all along nullahs and wasteland, canals and roads.
Since ‘seabuck thorn’ seeds are currently being exported obviously because of an ever-increasing demand abroad, ‘valley conservation committees’ (VCOs) or village organizations (VOs) need to be formed and activated so that the seeds collection could be systematized.
As said before, there is a rising demand for the ‘seabuck thorn’ abroad as well as in Pakistan because of its medicinal utility and significance. There is need of replication of the oil plant made operational in Skardu, across the whole of Gilgit-Baltistan besides encouraging the local farmers to carry out plantation of this species across the region in order that a genuine boost could be given it to meet the growing market demand. The local farmers’ training by the PCSIR, Peshawar to help them prepare jams and jellies from the fruit of this magic plant.
A boost to ‘seabuck thorn’ in Gilgit-Baltistan in this perspective is a sine qua non by exploring ways and means aimed at its maximal afforestation on scientific lines.
Yet another significance associated with this plant is in short, that ‘Seabuck thorn’ leaves can be used for teamaking. This aspect too, needs be accorded serious consideration and the setting up of a particular plant in Gilgit-Baltistan for its packaging and marketing envisioned by the relevant quarters. Understandably, people suffering from various ailments would preferably use these leaves by teamaking, because of the medicinal properties.
In sum, in becomes imperative that efforts must be geared towards giving a genuine boost to this magic plant of Gilgit-Baltistan which currently remains subject to utter neglect with the naturally growing ‘seabuck thorn’ decimating as a result of an apparent apathy and lack of awareness among the regional people. Village as well as governmental organization – especially the environmental one – may play an important role in popularizing the concept which if done, would greatly help contain poverty.