Palampur: Kinnaur-based group “Kala Zeera Utpadan Sangh” from Shong village in district Kinnaur will receive the prestigious Plant Genome Saviour Community Award worth Rs.10 lakh. While sharing this information, Prof H. K. Chaudhary, Vice-Chancellor, CSK Himachal Pradesh Agriculture University, said that it was the initiative of his University which enabled farmers to form the Kala Zeera Utpadan Sangh (KZUS), scientifically documented traits of the crop and applied for this community award in June, last year.
Now, the University has been informed by the Registrar of Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Authority (PPVFRA) about the selection of KZUS for the prestigious Plant Genome Saviour Community Award worth Rs. 10 lahks along with a citation. It will be presented to KZUS on 12 September by the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. Prof Chaudhary said this is India’s prestigious award for acknowledging the farmers’ significant contribution to conserving and developing plant varieties.
The Vice-Chancellor said that University’s research centre at Sangla (Kinnaur) has been designated as a ‘Model Farm on Kala Zeera and Saffron.’ It works for scientific cultivation, improvement and popularization of Kala Zeera( black cumin seeds) as a medicinal crop. Kala Zeera, though widely grown in forests, has been domesticated and currently is under cultivation in an area of about 47 hectares in Shong village of Kinnaur district. This crop has culinary, perfumery, and carminative as well as medicinal values as stimulant, expectorant, antispasmodic and diuretic properties.
In seeds, essential oils, namely terpenoids, phenylpropanoids, polyenes, etc., possess antioxidative, antifungal and antibacterial attributes. Kala Zeera has a premium price in the market and stands as an example of the ‘vocal for local’ movement. The collection of immature seeds from the forest area and unsustainable and unscientific exploitation of this spice has reduced its natural population. It has made it a plant of special conservation concern in the north-western Himalayas.
Prompted by the Vice-Chancellor’s guidance, university scientists have compiled all the scientific data and assisted the Kala Zeera growing community to conserve, develop, popularize, and formally register its valuable landraces with PPVFRA, Govt. of India.
The Vice-Chancellor appreciated the team of scientists comprising of Drs V.K. Sood, Nimit Kumar and Shailja Sharma, who did all the groundwork by visiting Shong village in June 2022 and filed a nomination for ‘The Plant Genome Saviour Community Award’ to PPV & FRA. He said that Himachali Kala Zeera was awarded Geographical Indication (GI) tag in March 2019 by Govt. of India, thus bringing laurels to the State.
The Vice-Chancellor also expressed his gratitude to Dr Trilochan Mohapatra, Chairperson, PPV&FRA, for recognizing the KZUS as a conserving community and selection for Plant Genome Saviour Community Award, 2021-22 for this precious herb. Only last week, with the scientific facilitation of the University, a progressive vegetable grower Garib Das from the village Burli Kothi near Paprola, was selected for Rs. One lakh ‘Plant Genome Saviour Farmer Recognition’ award by the Govt. of India.