Wild edibles : A source of livelihood

Sunish Sharma
Wild edibles are the products which includes gum, raisins, tannins, fruits and huge varieties of medicinal and aromatic plants.
Wild edibles are highly available in the forest areas of Jammu and Kashmir and are widely collected by the nomads of JK UT. A large number of population of nomads are dependent upon these wild edibles. These wild edibles not only support them at the mean time of food scarcity but also meets that basic nutritional demand. A large number of population of Gujjar and Bakarwal of JK UT support their food amenities by consuming these Wild edibles.
These wild edibles include Gucchi (Morchella esculenta), Anardana (Punica granatum), Bathua (Chenopodium album), Amlok (Diospyrus lotus), Amla (Emblica officinalis), Kalazeera (Bunium persicum), Jamun (Szygium cummini) and Ber (Zizyphus vulgaris)which not only grows wildly but also supports the dwelling nomads at the hard time of food scarcity. Jungli pudina (Mentha longifolia) Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) and Sarpagandha (Rauvolfia serpentina) has got immense medicinal properties which the nomads collect from the forest areas.
Nowadays, other than supporting the family household demands these wild edibles have got huge economic values in the market which also help the dwellers to sell them and make some profit. The districts of Rajouri , Udhampur and Poonch are highly enriched with Guchi, Ber, Ashawagandha, Jamun and Anardana whereas Bathua, Sarpagandha, Jungli Pudina and Kalazeera are primarily found in areas of Kishtwar, Baderwah and Doda districts of JK-UT.
The nomads are very less aware of the economic viability of these wild edibles which in turn does not allow them to sustain properly and those who are aware are earning well by selling the wild products especially Guchi which has got a good price fetch. There is a need of knowing the importance of these wild edible not only by studying the pattern of their consumption behaviour but also by analysing their marketing intelligence.
Certain attempts of awareness programmes need to be carried out so that the importance of these wild edibles can be highlighted and should be brought under the umbrella of market regimes which in turn will make the nomads to sustain their livelihoods by not only consuming these wild edibles but also by selling them through proper channel.
(The author is Ph.D Agricultural Economics)