Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the availability and use status of plant species and their genetic diversities from local forests and uncultivated lands in the context of three different Chepang ethnic communities of Nepal. In the current context of increased threats upon the natural resources to meet increased food demand, unsustainable harvest is also practised, leading to unavailability of the diversities, thus conservation and sustainable harvest were compared along with contribution of those neglected and underutilized species for food, nutrition and livelihood security of the local dwellers. Design/methodology/approach – This research was done by using multi-stage random sampling of 15 households from each village development committee (VDC), namely Shaktikhor, Kaule and Siddhi of Chitwan district of Nepal. The farmers’ participation in this study was ensured through participatory research methods, including group discussions (GD) and other Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) tools. In addition, field observations, household interviews and consultation with experts were used in this study. Findings – The Chepang community was found to possess immense knowledge on forest products and crop landraces and utilize the various plants for food and medicine. The underutilized species were used by the local people in different forms (food, vegetables, medicine, and for cultural and economical reasons). The uses of 46 underutilized plant species were documented, including 25 species with multiple functions as food, vegetables, and medicines. The overall contribution was about 2.7 months a year, with a significant difference between Siddhi (3.8months), Shaktikhor (2.4 months) and Kaule (1.9 months). Research limitations/implications – This research was an exploratory action research covering only 45 households from three VDCs and is not an adequate sample size considering population size. Due to differences in the altitude, farm and family size, level of education, the number of species availability and uses may differ and this research needs to be replicated covering different seasons, years and more respondents. Originality/value – This piece of research is original and conducted by three researchers working with different institutions. This strongly showed a gradual loss of the plant genetic diversities due to inability of the state, through its policy and programs, to recognize the contribution of those species in food, nutrition and livelihood security of vulnerable populations. The state should emphasize on research, education and technology development for those undermined crops, despite their huge contribution to the livelihood system.
World Journal of Science, Technology and Sustainable Development – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 31, 2012