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The Chilgoza of Kinnaur. Influence of the Pinus gerardiana edible seed market chain organization on forest regeneration in the Indian Himalayas

Peltier R., Dauffy V.. 2009. Fruits, 64 (2) : p. 99-110.

In the north of India, in the Himalayas, the high-altitude slopes [(between 1800 and 3300) m] are covered by forests where Pinus gerardiana dominates. This pine is known for its edible seeds (Chilgoza). The recent evolution of nut harvest methods means that there is danger of the disappearance of natural seedlings and the ageing of the forests. Therefore, a survey was carried out from 1998 with a hundred farmers, which was supplemented with field visits and discussions with resource people involved in the commercial chain. Results. In the 1950s, traditional harvesting rules made it possible to respect trees and to allow a small portion of seeds to reach the ground. So, in spite of particularly difficult ecological conditions, the forest was able to regenerate. During the five last decades, the roads opening have allowed an irrigated cash-arboriculture development in the valleys. The village communities have become less dependent on the Chilgoza trade and sell the nut harvest contracts to private contractors who employ foreign workers, cut many branches and practically collect all the seeds. So, regeneration has become practically non-existent. The poorest inhabitants cannot have access to this resource anymore. In town, the retail sale of Chilgoza represents a market of (100 to 300) t·year¿1, at a price from (15 to 20) ¿·kg, i.e., a market chain from (1.5 to 6) M¿·year¿1. Discussion and conclusion. The authors put forward a proposal to substitute for the two private platforms (purchase and drying) of New Delhi an organization with a non-lucrative purpose, concerned with a more respectful socio-economic development of the environment. This unit would centralize Chilgoza buying, drying and storage in the production place. Then, it would ensure sales to urban sellers, at the time of the peak of market demand. This would allow for a more significant part of the market chain added value to remain in the valley; this money at the same time would make it possible to fight against poverty and to regenerate natural resources. The authors are campaigning to see that research and development projects, financed with national or international funds, come to support these proposals.

Mots-clés : circuit de commercialisation; dégradation de l'environnement; développement durable; impact sur l'environnement; produit forestier non ligneux; régénération naturelle; récolte; graine; pinus; inde; région himalayenne; pinus gerardiana; filière

Thématique : Production forestière; Conservation de la nature et ressources foncières; Economie de la production; Commerce, commercialisation et distribution

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