Sea buckthorn is a high-altitude mountain niche product known for its ecological, nutritional, and economic benefits. Growing at elevations ranging from 4000 to 14,000 feet, the plant can withstand extreme temperatures of up to minus 40 degrees Celsius. The plant controls soil erosion, and its fruit, which is rich in Vitamin C, is known for its anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Sea buckthorn has high demand in the international market for use in food, medicine, and beauty products.
Building on the successful experience of its pilot, the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), through its Support to Rural Livelihoods and Climate Change Adaptation in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (Himalica) initiative, is developing the sea buckthorn value chain in Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan. The aim is to provide an alternative livelihood option for mountain women and men in the region. The value chain has the potential to be scaling up regionally as the multipurpose sea buckthorn plant is found across much of Hindu Kush Himalayan range.
With this view in mind, ICIMOD recently organised a workshop on strengthening the regional prospects of sea buckthorn value chains in Lanzhou, China, in partnership with Gansu Agriculture University.
By bringing country partners from China, India, Nepal, and Pakistan as well as the International Sea Buckthorn Association (ISA) under one platform, the workshop aimed to promote exchange of knowledge, technology, innovation, good practices, and experiences related to sea buckthorn value chain development, as well as explore regional collaboration and business-to-business linkages to evolve and sustain regional partnerships.
Exposure visits to Gansu University's sea buckthorn lab, processing factory, and cultivation area were organized. The participants met with the Gansu county magistrate as well as eminent government and private sector organizations to discuss matters of policy and practices, including new product development and design, value addition, certification, labeling and packaging, and the business model.
Field visit to seabuckthorn cultivation area. Photo by Anu Joshi Shrestha
The Gansu Agriculture University China and the participants from India, Nepal, and Pakistan signed a bilateral memorandum of understanding for future collaboration. Collaborative efforts will be made in research and development on the development and commercialization of diverse value-added sea buckthorn products, and the development and transfer of appropriate harvesting and processing technologies, among others.
The idea of collaborating with ICIMOD to seek possible funding from sources such as the Chinese government was discussed, as was seeking membership of the ISA to strengthen sea buckthorn value chain at a regional scale.
Virendra Singh from the Agriculture University of Himachal Pradesh, India, thanked ICIMOD for bringing country partners from Nepal, India, and Pakistan to China to learn about the sea buckthorn value chain. Singh said, “We will look for further collaboration with Gansu University and ICIMOD to strengthen this value chain as we have done intensive research on sea buckthorn-based pharmaceuticals, and China has done good work in terms of cultivation, value addition, and commercialization.”