Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 1035–1045 | Cite as

Kuth (Saussurea lappa) cultivation in the cold desert environment of the Lahaul valley, northwestern Himalaya, India: arising threats and need to revive socio-economic values

  • Chandra P. KuniyalEmail author
  • Yashwant S. Rawat
  • Santaram S. Oinam
  • Jagdish C. Kuniyal
  • Subhash C. R. Vishvakarma
Short communication


Surveys were conducted in the cold desert environment of the Lahaul valley in the northwestern Himalaya for assessing the past and present status of Kuth (Saussurea lappa) cultivation. The findings reveal that this age-old practice now is in bottleneck. Main factors responsible for this setback to the species were the lengthy cultivation cycle, small land holdings, and even fluctuating and relatively low market prices. Owing to these constraints farmers have now started replacing cultivation of this threatened herb with pea (Pisum sativum L.), potato (Solanum tuberosum L.) and hop (Humulus lupulus L.). These crops obtained popularity due to comparatively more economic returns as well as their easy adaptability to the short growth season of the cold desert environment. Kuth cultivation in this region is among the interesting examples of domesticating wild medicinal herb by some innovative farmers during the 1920s. However, in the recent past farmers have been less interested to continue this practice due to its larger cultivation cycle, more profits with cash crops like pea and potato, and permit formalities at the time of export from the valley. In addition to being the oldest cash crop in the cold desert environment, Kuth is an endangered medicinal herb that has to be conserved on a priority basis. This study attempts to find out potential measures such as regular revision of market rates, development of existing uncultivable land under medicinal plant cultivation and strengthening the marketing network through establishment of federations of farmers at village level to revive cultivation of this important species.


Cold desert Endangered medicinal plant Indian Himalaya Integrated approach Saussurea lappa 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chandra P. Kuniyal
    • 1
    Email author
  • Yashwant S. Rawat
    • 1
  • Santaram S. Oinam
    • 1
  • Jagdish C. Kuniyal
    • 1
  • Subhash C. R. Vishvakarma
    • 1
  1. 1.G.B. Pant Institute of Himalayan Environment & Development, Himachal UnitMohal-KulluIndia

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