A good old ‘thorn’ in India-Mongolia ties

September 30th, 2009 - 2:37 pm ICT by IANS
By Ritu SharmaPartapur (Jammu and Kashmir), Sep 30 (IANS) India and Mongolia have joined hands to tap the potential of seabuckthorn, a plant better known here as Leh Berry that has high concentrations of vitamins A, B2 and C and is found in abundance in both countries.
On a three-day visit to Ladakh to see the initiatives taken by the Defence Institute of High Altitude Region (DIHAR) to make the plant economically useful for the local population, Mongolian Ambassador to India Voroshilov Enkhbold told IANS: “We have seabuckthorn in Mongolia also, mostly in the western province. We have seen how valuable the cherry is.”
Most of the Ladakh region in Jammu and Kashmir is a cold desert, similar to the Gobi desert in Mongolia.
“I want to establish some relation with India on how to tap the potential of the plant,” the ambassador said.
Enkhbold will be taking to Mongolia samples of Leh Berry juice, a herbal anti-oxidant supplement prepared from the plant; herbal tea and some of the 200-odd products prepared by DIHAR scientists.
“We are sending two of our scientists to Mongolia to share our success story in making the plant a source of income for the local population,” said DIHAR’s director Shashi Bala Singh.
There is plenty of seabuckthorn growing wild in Ladakh, a region where temperatures can plunge to as low as minus 50 degrees Celsius. Distributed over 11,500 hectares in the area, the shrub can withstand the extreme temperature, including huge fluctuations, as it can also get pretty hot under the cloudless sky.
The berries have high concentrations of vitamins A, B2 and C, far higher than in other fruits and vegetables such as orange, carrot and tomato.
“The plant is a boon for the region. It fixes atmospheric nitrogen into the soil, making it more fertile, checks soil erosion, its leaves are anti-cancerous, prevent tumour and improve immunity. So we call it the Golden Bush of the cold desert,” Singh told IANS.
In 2001, DIHAR had commercialised the beverage it prepared from the fruit under the name “Leh Berry Juice”. In 2004 it made a herbal tea, the formula for which will be transferred to two vendors soon. In 2005, it came up with a jam and a sauce and in 2009, with a herbal anti-oxidant supplement prepared from the plant.
“Currently we are undertaking tests for UV (ultraviolet) protective oil and soft gel capsule rich in seed oil and omega fatty acids to be used as food supplement,” Singh added.
The locals, who used to once consider seabuckthron a weed, have benefited from the new findings of DIHAR and are now selling the fruit here as well as in other states.
“We would like small industries to come to Ladakh and invest in the project, providing more economic avenues to the Ladakhis,” W. Selvamurthy, distinguished scientist of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), told IANS. Selvamurthy is also the chief controller of research and development in DRDO, the parent organisation of DIHAR.
Tsering Stobdan, a senior scientist working on the seabuckthorn research projects and a native of Ladakh, said: “So far less than five percent of the plant potential in the region has been exploited. The demand for the fruit is increasing and reflected in its price going up from Rs.8 to Rs.30 per kg in recent months.”
(Ritu Sharma can be contacted at ritu.s@ians.in)
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1 comment:

  1. Different body requires different nutrition, so it is advisable to consult first with a physician before taking any supplements. Everyone should bare in mind that aside from taking supplements, one must be conscious of his diet and daily activities to live a healthy lifestyle.
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