As we celebrate the International Day for Biological Diversity today, we are reminded of all that nature gives us- clean air, water, food and many more. In Dzedokha village in Loggchina, Phuentsholing, the people continue to heavily rely on nature for livelihood.
The village is known for its rich floral diversity. Various medicinal and aromatic plants grow in abundance. Zingiber cassumunar, locally known as Phacheng, is one of them. The plant is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and locals have always used it to cure joint pains. However, unsustainable harvest practices were putting the sustainability of Zingiber cassumunar at risk.
In 2016, the National Biodiversity Centre (NBC) stepped in to help the community harness their traditional knowledge around medicinal plants to diversify local livelihoods and conserve biodiversity. The pilot project was supported by GEF-Nagoya Protocol Implementation Fund. It was co-financed by UNDP-GEF.
The people in Dzedokha has and continues to rely on cardamom, ginger and oranges as their primary sources of income. However, orange yield dwindled significantly over the years due to citrus greening, a plant disease that is wiping out orange trees in most parts of the country. So is the case with cardamom. As for ginger, fluctuating market prices have rendered it an unstable source of income.
The Zingiber project, therefore, couldn’t have come at a better time. The project helped form a community-based organization called Dzedokha Pacheng Detshen and engaged the group in mass cultivation of Zingiber cassumunar. They were trained in essential oil extraction and how to produce massage balm and liniment oil using Zingiber extracts.
The products are branded as Zhinor. It took the project four years of research and cultivation trails to develop the products. The NBC launched the products in April 2018 and continues to support the development and marketing of the products.
The project is expected to help generate employment opportunities and encourage local entrepreneurship. The unemployed youth in the community are already taking charge of leading the project.
The project is also playing a significant role in raising awareness on the importance of biodiversity among the local communities.