Bylakuppe is one of the oldest and largest Tibetan settlements in India. It is a very large town with 40,000 residents, several monasteries, kindergarten to secondary level schools, health care clinics, a hospital, and a traditional Tibetan medical facility. The monasteries at Bylakuppe, which are beautiful and intricate replicas of the original monasteries in Tibet, attract tourists from around the world.
Home to the Tibetan government’s Organic Research and Training Center (ORTC), the Bylakuppe settlement has a critical role in disseminating information about organic agriculture to the rest of the Tibetan settlements. Farmers and community leaders from all of the Tibetan settlements come to the ORTC to study. By working with this center, the Himalayan Institute’s Energy Farming project will be able to have a much wider reach in the Tibetan community.
Demonstration Plot and Nursery
In November 2009, the Energy Farming program that started at the Rabgayling Settlement expanded to include the Bylakuppe Settlement. Two acres of land were allocated for a new pongamia plantation and nursery. In addition to the 400 planted trees, 10,000 seedlings are growing in the nursery to be distributed to farmers. Besides demonstrating sustainable tree plantation and biofuel cultivation, the demonstration plot also models the concept of intercropping—growing multiple crops on the same piece of land for a diversified harvest. The herbs grown alongside the pongamia include guduchi, black pepper, and long pepper. Silver oak trees also shade the land and are used for construction timber and fire wood.
Herbal Demonstration Farm
In collaboration with the Organic Research and Training Center, the Himalayan Institute’s Energy Farming program has planted a one-acre Herbal Demonstration Farm, which includes a variety of medicinal and kitchen herbs that local farmers can grow for profit and home use. To further stimulate the interest of the farmers, the Herbal Farm serves free tea made with herbs from the garden, such as lemongrass. By seeing the herbs in cultivation and the final product, farmers can immediately imagine the impact of growing such herbs on their own farms.
The herbs that are being demonstrated include:
- Isabgol (psylium)
- Piper longum