Between May and September of 2019, Local Futures will collaborate with Ladakh- and Japan-based NGO JULAY LADAKH to grow organic buckwheat in upper-Central Ladakhi villages and to find new ways of supporting local food economies in Ladakh.
Buckwheat has been grown for centuries in Western Ladakh, mostly as a second crop planted after the harvest of wheat and barley. With shifting economic, social, and climatic conditions, there is local interest in introducing the crop to Central Ladakh, the benefits of which could be numerous.
Buckwheat is relatively easy to grow and fast-growing, so it’s ideal for Ladakh’s short growing season. It is high in minerals and has a number of health benefits when it comes to modern lifestyle diseases; for example, it reduces blood pressure and improves blood sugar levels, and is much more nutrient- and protein-dense than the imported rice that has now become a staple in Ladakh. Processed buckwheat, like (gluten-free) flour and noodles, can fetch a good price and help make it an attractive and viable way for people to resist the pressures of urbanization and opt instead to farm in villages. Direct marketing from farm to table, e.g. to Ladakhi restaurants, is a possibility in the near future.
2019 will be the first year of a minimum-3-year project that will trial buckwheat production in the villages of Sakti, Shey and Shara and the town of Leh, and market the produce.
Volunteer Positions Open
You can volunteer to help in one of two roles:
Volunteer Position 1:
Minimum stay in Ladakh: 2 Months, between the end of May and mid-September;
Location: Homestay in one of the villages of Sakti, Shey, and Shara, or the town of Leh;
Cost: 500 Indian rupees (approximately US$7.25) per day. Depending on the volunteer’s nationality, it’s possible that volunteers will have to pay for permits to restricted areas. Permits cost approximately US$11.
We are looking for 2 – 4 volunteers who are interesting in staying a minimum of two months in Ladakh to help in a hands-on way with production, to document specifics such as agricultural inputs, yields, labor requirements, etc., and to observe and study people’s responses.
Volunteers are needed between the end of May and mid-September, and would be expected to pay 500 Indian rupees (approximately US$7.25) per day to cover all food, some basic transport, and village accommodation costs. Volunteers would live with Ladakhi villagers in their homes. Depending on the number of successful volunteer applications, volunteers may be required to travel to several villages, carrying out the work in each village consecutively.
Volunteer Position 2:
Minimum stay in Ladakh: 1.5 Months, between the end of May and mid-September;
Location: Homestay in the village of Shey;
Cost: 500 Indian rupees (approximately US$7.25) per day.
We are also looking for 1 – 2 volunteers who are interested in helping JULAY LADAKH write proposals to get funding for local food projects in Ladakh. These volunteers would have the option of staying with Julay Ladakh director Skarma Gurmet at his family home in Shey village (paying INR 500 per day for all food, accommodation, and transport costs), or independently organizing their accommodation in Ladakh if so desired. Minimum 1.5 months commitment required.
All volunteers will be given the opportunity to join JULAY LADAKH and Local Futures for other Ladakh-based programs, including traditional skills workshops and ‘Economics of Happiness’ workshops. Volunteers are also welcome to attend the Economics of Happiness Conference in Leh on September 20-21st at no cost.