|Farmers in Stakmo village receive field training in improved cultivation practices from a Tata Trusts consultant|
For farmers in the picturesque Himalayan region of Leh, even a simple requirement like being able to get quality potato seed tubers all through the year is a dream that rarely comes true. Potato is an important cash crop in these is part of the Himalayas, but the high altitude terrain and lack of modernisation in the traditional systems of cultivation make life tough for the farming community.
The planting season starts in the month of April, but the roads to Leh remain closed because of snowfall till May. This means farmers are left with no option but to use their own harvested potato tubers for planting rather than procuring high-quality seeds that improve yields.
To help solve this problem, a joint project was initiated in 2015 by six development agencies: Tata Trusts, NABARD, the Indian Army, the Ladakh Autonomous Hill Development Council (LAHDC), partners of the Trusts and Siddhivinayak Agri Processing. Tata Trusts and NABARD co-financed the activity; LAHDC provided necessary support with administrative approvals; Siddhivinayak supplied improved seed tubers in Chandigarh, from where it was airlifted by the Army for delivery to Leh. Incidentally, the Army has a keen interest in the crop, as it is a major food item required for feeding the troops stationed in Leh.
Under this initiative, Tata Trusts and partners managed to deliver 23 tonnes of seed tubers of eight improved varieties to potato farmers on May 6, 2016, in time for this season’s planting. A highly coordinated operation, it was a perfect example of multi-stakeholder partnerships working together to address uniquely challenging situations in Leh.