Lehdo (Khaltse) and Udmaroo (Nubra) of Leh district
Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, Mumbai
Apricot and apples are the main fruit trees of Ladakh and are widely grown in the warmer and lower reaches of Ladakh, particularly in Sham, Nubra and Kargil. Traditionally, the apricots are sundried on the roof of houses or on large stones and sold in markets in Leh and Kargil.
Apricots and apples that grow in Ladakh are highly perishable within the short summer season. Therefore, the fresh fruits need to be transported to the markets soon after the harvesting in July and August. However, due to limited market and demand, many of the fruits products go to waste.
Apricot processing in the form of jam, juice, oil and dried-apricots will allow the farmers to preserve the apricot from rotting and to add value to the product. These can be sold for better prices in the markets to both locals and tourists.
Seabuckthorn is a deciduous shrub that grows in the wild, mainly along the Indus and Shayok Rivers in Ladakh The seabuckthorn berry is rich in Vitamin C and it can be processed into juice and jam.
- The primary focus of the project is to provide training to the rural women in fruit processing by organising them into self help groups to process the organically grown apricots and seabuckthorn into jams, juices and pulps.
- The concept of the group formation is to start economic activities to bring in more income to individual members by pooling financial and physical resources.
- With the support of LEDeG, the women entrepreneurs are trying to improve the market access and reduce the market intermediaries.
- Technologies and skills of the women are upgraded so that they can supply high value-added products in the markets.
- In Udmaroo village in Nubra, training took place and the members of the Self Help Group have been trained to work on the processing of apricot jam, juice and seabuckthorn juice.
- In both Lehdo and Udmaroo, a fruit processing unit has been constructed according to the Fruit Processing Order (FPO) standards.
- In these villages the women have also been trained to successfully identify perspective buyers. This way, the project has paved way for further expansion through the SHG’s which will provide sustainability and expand future capacity.
- In 2009, a centralised training was conducted focussing on avenues for SHGs engaged in Fruit Processing activities. Two representatives from each of the SHGs took part in the training program. They also got practical training on processing apricot products.