In Jammu and Kashmir, agriculture has for long played a particularly significant role in daily life, spanning as it does even now the highland and lowland zones, vast forests and wastelands. Many crops, both in the Kharif and Rabi seasons have found a home in Jammu & Kashmir. In the past, both in the plains and in the hilly areas, some pseudo cereals, vegetables and minor millets were also regularly farmed. Since several decades ago, these crops have not been grown any longer in general. Yet, these crops are still being farmed in a few isolated locations of north Kashmir and the state’s Ladakh region. However, they too are being faced with more and more threats. Since, they produce resources for human use from lands and in areas where several other crops would find it difficult to grow as effectively as they do, their importance remains on par with that of major cereals. (Sheikh, S. M., & Singh, O. (2013)

1. Tartary buckwheat

Due to its excellent nutraceutical qualities, Fagopyrum tataricum (tartary buckwheat), a dicot pseudo cereal belonging to the family Polygonaceae is a possible option. Owing to their significant nutraceutical benefits, buckwheat sprouts are already a common source of vegetables. The nutritional and functional food industry must try and work towards reducing undernutrition and enhance social well-being, particularly for the underprivileged community. Since buckwheat flour is gluten-free, it is crucial in diet or foods for those with celiac disease. Gluten intolerance is a genetically based condition of the small intestine known as coeliac disease. The products made from buckwheat are manufactured for their therapeutic qualities. For example, “leaves” that contain “antioxidants” are used to make tea, while “groats” that contain “fagopyritols” are used in the soap industry. Additionally, fagopyritols, phenols, dietary fibre, fagopyrins, resistant starch, vitamins and lignans are important bioactive component s of tartary buckwheat. (Pirzadah et al., 2016)

2. Soyabean

In the North Western Indian Himalayan state of Jammu & Kashmir, soy (Glycine max L.), a multipurpose neglected and underutilized commodity has a large potential to be exploited as an oil seed crop and cattle feed. The crop can be utilized to recover and replenish the fertility of marginal crops like karewa, which is relatively less productive. (Sultan et al., 2017)

3. Amaranthus

A globally distributed species of yearly or short-lived perennial plants, Amaranthus L. (family: Amaranthaceae), exhibits significant morphological variation between and within some species. The taxonomy of the genus’s 70 recorded species is complicated, due to its lack of distinctive characteristics, which has led systematists to generally regard it as a challenging genus. The plants produce tightly packed catkin-like flower clusters that range in different colours from red to purple and gold or green and mature into huge seedheads with a vast number of tiny grains. Amaranth is a crop with several uses, including those of a medicinal plant, grain crop, vegetable, fodder and ornamental plant. The majority of Amaranthus species are summer annual weeds. Amaranth is a crop with several uses, including those of a food, medicinal plant, fodder and ornamental. Neither in Kashmir nor in Ladakh is the crop farmed for commercial purposes; rather, it is grown as part of a local, sustainable agricultural system. In practically every kitchen garden in Kashmir and Ladakh, a few amaranth plants are grown as a custom.

4. Foxtail millet

One of the most popular species of millets is Setaria italica (L.), sometimes known as foxtail millet. Of all the millets, it has been grown in China from around the sixth millennium BC, giving it the lengthy history of cultivation. It is an annual herb with an erect, slender stem that can reach a height of 90 to 150 cm before bending under the weight of the seedheads. The slender leaves measure 30-45 cm in length. The inflorescence is a thick, cylindrical, bristly, 8–32 cm long panicle that frequently arches at the terminal. Each spikelet’s base has one to four bristles. The stiff inner glume and the palea surround the tiny seeds, which have a diameter of around 2 mm. Between types, the hue of the seeds can range from creamy white to purple and orange red. (Sheikh, S. M., & Singh, O. (2013))

References:

1. Sultan, S. M., Dikshit, N., & Vaidya, U. J. (2017). Soybean (Glycine Max L.)-A neglected versatile crop in Jammu and Kashmir, India. The Journal of Indian Botanical Society, 96(1and2), 28-35.

2. Pirzadah, T. B., Malik, B., Tahir, I., & Rehman, R. U. (2016). Metabolite profiling of tartary buckwheat-An underutilized neutraceutical crop of Kashmir Himalaya. Journal of Phytology, 8, 49-54.

3. Sheikh, S. M., & Singh, O. (2013). Pseudocereals and millets: the lost crops of Kashmir. Genetic resources and crop evolution, 60(3), 1191-1199.

About the Authors:
Bushra Manzoor, Monica Reshi, Bushra Bashir & Aafreen Naseer
Division of Food Science and Technology, SKUAST-K.
Corresponding Author Email ID: monikareshi@gmail.com

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An editor by day & dreamer at night; passionately involved with both print and digital media; Pet lover; Solo traveller.

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