A group of farmers in Buli will start cultivating native varieties of cereals starting this year in a bid to ensure their continuity.

Members of the Sonam Nyamsung Detshen have initiated this effort to conserve such cereals in their locality which they say are today endangered species.

Sonam Nyamsung Detshen chairman Phuntsho Dendup, 55, said there are several native cereals which most of the farmers don’t grow anymore such as Zangkar, Kezang Rey, Rey Maap, Kaam Jaa and Golingpa.

He said most of the farmers also don’t cultivate other grains like quinoa, wheat, barley, sweet buckwheat and buckwheat. He pointed out that some species of native maize have also almost vanished.

Phuntsho Dendup said the group’s members along with the gewog agriculture extension officer have managed to collect some pure native cereal seeds from those who still cultivate them. “We will grow them and produce more seeds now,” he said.

Another elderly person said Bulipas grew these varieties of cereals widely in past years. The cereals have become endangered, according to the group, after many could not practice shifting cultivation due to government policy which disallows the practise.

Phuntsho Dendup said the group will soon start building a house on government land on lease near the gewog office. The structure will house a seed bank where all kinds of seeds will be stored, and also be used to sell rice and house a small office.

The United Nations Development Programme is providing financial support.

“We have already received the Lag Thram for leasing the land and construction will start immediately after the approval,” he said. The tshogpa is also in the process of acquiring clearances for construction.

The gewog’s agriculture extension officer, LB Biswa, said barbed wire will soon be distributed to the farmers to fence their fields on which they grow the traditional grains.

He said they will store the seeds of the grains in the seed bank so that it can be distributed to the farmers when needed.  “We will also keep different types of rice there from where we can sell,” he said.

The group also grows vegetables. They will supply vegetables to Buli Central School this year. They have already transplanted some while some vegetables are grown in greenhouses at the moment.

Nima Wangdi | Buli