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Harvesting Seabuckthorn at the top of the world

Harvesting Seabuckthorn at the top of the world

A partnership involving an international foundation, university research institutions, local community-based organisations, and practitioners of traditional Tibetan medicine, is working with a hospital and international businesses to build a sustainable programme for the cultivation and sale of seabuckthorn in domestic and international markets.

The international HimalAsia Foundation together with university research institutions, local community-based Tibetan cooperatives and a family of traditional medical practitioners have developed a sustainable programme for cultivating and marketing seabuckthorn and other medicinal plants for the local and international market, thereby improving livelihoods and safeguarding traditional knowledge of medicinal plants and the biodiversity of Nepal.

Seabuckthorn is a highly nutritious and versatile berry, containing vitamins C, E, beta-carotene and omega-3 fatty acids. Its berries produce nutrient rich juice and oil, and the leaves can be used for tea and traditional herbal remedies. Seabuckthorn plants are also known for their vigorous root growth, helping to mitigate problems of land degradation, desertification and soil erosion.

For the first stage, the partnership achieved the following:

  • three seabuckthorn nurseries were established in 2003, in cooperation with two community-based cooperatives and a local Amchi clinic
  • the HimalAsia Foundation provided the initial investment for the nurseries as well as training in the sustainable cultivation of the seabuckthorn plants
  • local women’s cooperatives were trained to harvest and process wild seabuckthorn berries
  • RECAST, a research centre at the Tribhuvan University in Nepal, and the ITT, the Institute for Technology and Resources Management, Köln, Germany, were involved in the development of specialised mobile pressing machines which would enable these local cooperatives to extract seabuckthorn oil on site
  • Nepal’s only hospital for reconstructive surgery joined the project with a view to using the first batches of oil for the treatment of patients with burns and scars.

This partnership is developing a market in Nepal for seabuckthorn products, and it is hoped that the cooperatives will create small- and medium-sized enterprises to meet the domestic demand. International companies have shown considerable interest in buying seabuckthorn products from the local cooperatives, and the initiative will help broker fair business relationships between such companies and the local producers.

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