“Loss of Traditional Cereal Crop Diversity in Samdrup Jongkhar Dzongkhag” is the title of Lobzang Tshering(T)’s thesis. Lobzang is pursuing his bachelor’s degree in agriculture at the College of Natural Resources.
Lobzang’s proposal reads, “…Crop diversity is also a global asset of inestimable value to humankind and is indispensable for global food security and sustainable development. ….. A wider range of diversity reduces the risk of crop failure by producing resistant varieties against pest and diseases and with the change in climate (Smale et al., 2005)….. Bhutan has wide range of diversity in crop, both cultivated and wild species that are concentrated beyond the proportions of being its small size …… (they) play a significant role in the livelihoods of many smallholder farming communities in Bhutan ….. However the richness of crop diversity has been declining over the years and becoming increasingly dependent on fewer and fewer crop varieties, with the introduction of commercial, uniform crop varieties …. according to Katwal et al. (2015) in Bhutan. The overall loss of traditional crop varieties in a time period of 20 years stands at 28.57%...”
We take pride in introducing new breeds of seeds, while the traditional seeds and seed saving methods and culture are being lost or at best consigned to seed/gene banks (if they are not lost yet). Mindless and persuasive implementation of silo sectoral development and income generation seriously undermine indigenous knowledge, agriculture, nutrition and traditional crop diversity (SJI’s limited and superficial experience).
Lobzang’s proposal is highly appreciated, as it underpins SJI’s deep concern. SJI offered Nu.10,000 as a token of its support to his humble requirement of Nu. 100,000/- to complete his field work for the thesis (ironically a challenge for him to mobilize). National Biodiversity Centre generously provided Nu. 25,000/- for the proposal.
We hope that the findings will generate valuable discourse at all levels or at least in Samdrupjongkhar Dzongkhag.