Poor road connectivity forces Lahaul-Spiti to give up hops farming


By: ML Verma

Keylong (July 11): Hops production in Himachal Pradesh, grown mostly in the high-altitude areas of Lahaul-Spiti, Chamba and Kinnaur is expected to fall substantially this year, senior horticulture officers revealed to HimVani.

Lahaul-Spiti district horticulture officer Sonam Angrup said that hops production is likely to be around 15 metric tonne this year after a record production of 50 MT last year, while its rate is expected to remain on the higher side, at about Rs 45 per kilogram, due to low productions. Attributing the fall in productions to disruption in road traffic last years, he said that farmers did not get good rate for their crop last time due to frequent disruptions of roads, forcing farmers not to opt for its cultivation this year, replacing it with vegetables like pea, potato and cabbage which could be sold locally.

He said that flower extract of hops is used for making for export quality bear and its cultivation was introduced first time in India in 1740 by Britishers at Dehradoon from where it entered into Kashmir valley in 1751. Its cultivations had started in Pangi valley of Chamba district in 1773 and Lahaul valley in 1775. Hops produce in this hill state is being used for making bear and others product at M/s Aromatic Pvt. Company at Baddi. The company purchased hops from Lahaul Hops Society, which has its office at Kirtan near Lahaul. The Society procures the produce from hundreds of farmers engaged in its cultivations in 75 hectare of land in district Lahaul-Spit alone, while its total cultivations is about 100 hectare in the state.

The official said that Government is offering Rs 20 per kilogram as incentives in the state while Lahaul-Spiti contributes about 26-50 MT productions and farmers fetch average price of Rs 25 to 32 per kilogram on its flowers.

In Himachal Pradesh its cultivations is being done in Jhalma villages, Gohrma, Ravika, Tandi, Udaipur and Lara in Lahaul Spiti district, Killard, Pruthi in Pangi Valley of Chamba and Nako, Sumra Hango, Chuling, Chango, Sylkhar, Yanthang, Jabuang, Spilo, Riba and Kalpa in Kinnaur district. The prominent species of Hops being grown in the state are Late Cluster, Golden Cluster, Highbreed-2, Harmukh, etc. Hops cultivation is being considered much economical due to increasing demand of bear in the beverage market in the country and abroad.

Hops sown in month of March-April and its crop in the form of cone(flower) ripens in August-September. State Horticulture department also offers Rs 50 subsidy on its inputs. Local farmers from Jhalama, Primtam said that government should offer helicopter transportation service during its productions as land road remains cutoff for more than seven month in the year. There are four helipads at Diet, Tandi, Stingri and Udaipur from where it could be easily airlifted to Baddi as it is a light-weight produce.

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