These eco-friendly vegetable cellars are helping famers in remote Indian village to store veggies in harsh winters
Ladakh, a district in the picturesque state of Jammu and Kashmir, India, is witnessing the impacts of climate change due to the recent boom in tourism industry. The area is experiencing significant shortfalls of snow, rising temperatures and glaciers melting at a faster pace.
Since 80% of local farmers depend on glaciers for irrigation, climate change is posing a major threat to their very survival. With Ladakh getting hotter every passing year, even storing the limited produce farmers harvest on their fields has become problematic.
However, the tiny village of Nang, situated nearly 40 km from the main administrative centre of Leh, has found a way for local farmers to address these concerns.
To address the problem of receding glaciers, villagers turned to man-made glaciers (popularly known as ice stupas) in the upper reaches of Nang. For storage, however, the village has turned to vegetable cellars developed by the Defence Institute of High Altitude Research (DIHAR), which do not require any fossil fuels. These eco-friendly cellars have resulted in better incomes for farmers and ensured their survival through the harsh winters where temperatures fall below -15 degrees Celsius.
Earlier, farmers would store surplus produce in underground pits, but extreme temperatures have rendered many crops, particularly potatoes, unfit for consumption. Thanks to these eco-friendly vegetable cellars or “hibernation hubs” made up of sticks, hay, and mud, farmers have even stored other root crops like cabbage, spring onions, turnip and radishes.