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Ladakh is the largest and the second least populous Union Territory of India. It is witnessing a rapid development after getting the status of a Union Territory and work on infrastructural projects like roads and tunnels has gained pace. While tourism remains a major contributor to Ladakh’s economy, the production of Pashmina and Apricots are also increasingly contributing to the growth of the territory.
Highlighting the emergence of Ladakh as the key producer of Pashmina- a valuable wool, and Apricot, among the global audience, young entrepreneurs from the region came together for a session at the India Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai. Organised by the Administration of Ladakh and FICCI, the session titled “Pashmina, Apricot & Zero Waste Food Processing Intervention” discussed the development and available opportunities in the region for joint collaborations with the GCC countries.
Emphasizing upon the importance of agriculture in the region, the speakers talked about the recent practices that have enabled Ladakh to produce Pashmina and Apricots efficiently despite the cold arid climate, altitude, and rugged terrain across the region.
Kachoo Mehboob Ali Khan; IRS, Secretary, Tourism – Ladakh said that the region is aggressively promoting its agricultural & horticultural produces and is regularly engaging with the industry and the private sector for technology sharing to improve the value chain and food processing systems.
Khan said that the Expo 2020 Dubai is a good platform to engage with the best in the world for knowledge sharing, product development and collaborations to improve the product life cycle of Ladakhi produces. “Tourism continues to be a priority sector for Ladakh and we look to engage with the European Union and other countries with similar landscape to explore possibilities in high altitude adventure tourism and winter sports”, he added.
Speaking about Pashmina, Nawang Phuntsog, CEO, Nomadic Woollen Mills said, “Pashmina is ethically harvested and sourced in Ladakh, without any kind of industrialization. Changthang, Ladakh – is home to the world’s finest Pashmina and the region is on a mission to preserve and leverage its cultural heritage and establish its identity as the source of the ‘golden fibre’. We ensure that fair trade practices are being followed and everyone involved in the process gets their due share. For each step, we utilize eco-friendly and green technologies. The capacity to process the wool reared is just 5% on an annual basis, thereby leaving a huge lucrative potential for the entrepreneurs to enter the sector and revive the traditional handloom of Ladakh.”
Highlighting the challenges in Pashmina business, Zakir Hussain Zaidi, Managing Director, Changthangi Lena said, “Ladakh produces finest Cashmere in the world that is between 10-15 microns but the problem of fake Pashmina has been an alarming issue for the locals and nomads in Ladakh as they are not getting their due share in the process. The Administration of Union Territory of Ladakh is also supporting with the Geographical Indication (G.I.) certification, which will help Ladakh establish the authenticity of the finest fabric from Changthang i.e. Pashmina.”
“Our goal is to work towards the development of the community and improve the livelihoods of the breeders. We are looking for potential opportunities in UAE – buyers and multi-stores with whom we can tie-up”, he added.
Speaking about apricot which has recently been identified as the primary crop for Kargil under the ‘One District One Product’ programme of the Government of India, Dr. Gouri Dutt Head, Market Insights & Community Engagement, Krishak Agritech said, “Ladakh is India’s largest producer of apricot but interestingly the fruit had never been exported out of the UT except for this year. We introduced the zero-waste harvesting model in the region which has resulted in reducing the wastage of apricots exponentially. With these interventions, we have been able to create history for Ladakh as we exported apricots to cities like Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Delhi. We also sold 150 Kgs of Apricots in Dubai in 2 hours generating 600 man-days of employment.”
“Exporting apricots is a strategic priority for Ladakh to contribute to the economy of the Union Territory in its full potential. With future innovations and interventions, we plan to set up zero-waste harvesting & food processing unit before the next season of apricot. We seek to learn and build partnerships to better the value chain
in fresh and processed apricot based products, establishing crop improvement techniques, strong logistics linkages and high-end food processing units,” she added.
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