Training on propagation & conservation of Satwa medicinal plant for Dzongu farmers

Sunday, Aug 01, 2021 07:45 [IST]

Last Update: Sunday, Aug 01, 2021 02:06 [IST]

Training on propagation & conservation of Satwa medicinal plant for Dzongu farmers

GANGTOK,: The G.B. Pant National Institute of Himalayan Environment (GBP-NIHE) is actively involved in conservation of threatened and high-value medicinal plants of Indian Himalayan region.
In continuation to this, a training-cum-demonstration programme on conservation of high value medicinal plant Paris polyphylla (locally Satwa) was organized by Sikkim Regional Centre of the institute under Khangchendzonga Landscape Conservation Initiative (KLCDI) India programme on July 29, a press release informs.
During the programme, the current status of Satwa (a vulnerable and high value medicinal plant of Sikkim), its medicinal properties and uses, threats to the species, potential conservation strategies, different aspects of viable agro techniques were discussed. Further, for its restoration in its natural habitat Satwa seedlings were distributed to the identified farmers of Dzongu, North Sikkim and Pangthang, East Sikkim area. A total of 10 participants/community representatives were trained during the programme, however 4 farmers joined training programme virtually from different part of Sikkim.
The programme began with the welcome address by Dr. Rajesh Joshi, the head of Sikkim Regional Centre to the community representatives and farmer groups.
In his address, Dr. Joshi emphasized on the conservation need of Satwa and urged participants for their active participation on its population restoration in wild. Dr. Kailash S. Gaira, investigator of KLCDI-India programme briefed about the event and highlighted why Satwa was selected for conservation and KLCDI-India initiatives in biodiversity conservation and management.  
Dr. Aseesh Pandey, programme manager, KLCDI-India described the status of Satwa, its medicinal uses and threats to its natural regeneration through a power point presentation. He explained why underground part (rhizome) of Satwa is important and its various uses in traditional to modern medicinal systems. He said that steroidal saponins are active compounds in Satwa and responsible for its pharmacological activities including immunoregulatory, anticancer, and cardiovascular effects.
Describing medicinal uses of the plant, Dr. Pandey stated that due to high medicinal value of Satwa, there has been its unregulated harvestings from the wild to meet increasing demand as a medication in itself and for drug formulations by pharmaceutical industries. Although the species is considered vulnerable in China, India and Nepal, however, it needs to be listed in global IUCN red list, the CITES list.
Further, describing conservation strategies of Satwa, Dr. Pandey demonstrated sustainable rhizome harvesting procedures and seed and rhizome based agro techniques. He said that the Satwa is a slow germinating plant and requires about 6-7 months to germinate. July-August is the best time for Satwa seed collection and September and/or in January and February is good time for seed sowing.
In agro techniques, various steps namely harvesting and storage of seeds, nursery bed preparation, soil composition, sowing criteria, mulching and shading methods, watering, acclimatization and harvesting were demonstrated to the participants.
During the discussion session, community representative Nimkit Lepcha, Zilla Panchayat, Lingdem-Lingthem ward, Dzongu appreciated initiatives undertaken by KLCDI-India in Dzongu and agreed to participate in conservation and restoration of this high value medicinal plant in her ward.
Ugen Palzor Lepcha, executive director, MLAS, Dzongu emphasized on the need of the conservation of other high-value species of Dzongu through developing similar species specific agro techniques.
Dupzor Lepcha, president of Songbing Tourism Development and Management Committee (STDMC) Dzongu indicated the role of people participation and community involvement in conservation of Satwa. He also suggested opportunities in Satwa farming based tourism in Dzongu area.  
Joden Lepcha, a renowned bamboo artisan from Dzongu, said this training gave him great exposure how to grow and conserve important species by applying scientific knowledge and urged for similar scientific interventions to conserve decreasing bamboo species in the region such as Gope bans (Cephalostachyum sp.).
Dr. Rajesh Joshi and Dr. Aseesh Pandey emphasized on clustering of Satwa-based farmers from Dzongu as well as whole Sikkim for effective implementation of Satwa conservation strategies in the state.  The field demonstration on rhizome plantation technique of Satwa was given to the participants by Dr. Aseesh Pandey and KLCDI-India team.
The programme was concluded by distributing nursery raised 800 Satwa seedlings and 5 vermi-compost bags to the participants by Dr. Rajesh Joshi and Dr. Kailash S. Gaira with an aim of Satwa cultivation as a potential livelihood option and restoration of Satwa populations in its natural habitat through STDMC in participatory manner. All the participants thanked GBP-NIHE for this initiative and agreed for their cooperation towards conservation of this species, the release mentions.

Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi