RARE (Reviving Ayurveda’s Rare Ecology) is a LifeSpa project built to support sustainable growth of rare and endangered herbs. Last year, LifeSpa bought an entire crop of the endangered herb kutki from local farmers in the remote Himalayan village of Kesh at 9,000 feet above sea level.
To support the farmers and villagers of Kesh, LifeSpa gives 15% of its kutki sales and 100% of the profits from the remaining harvest back to the farmers. Such international interest and support for these remote farmers has sparked great interest and unprecedented support from the Indian government.
Through the tireless efforts of the Dunagiri Foundation director Vajra Ashara and codirector Prashanti De Jager, kutki (and now other endangered herbs!) are being sustainably grown and hopefully can soon to be taken off the endangered species list.
Dunagiri’s efforts, with the support of Lifespa’s RARE project, has caught the attention of the Indian Parliament’s Chief Minister Sri Patiji (akin to a senator) and the Chief Minister of AYUSH (The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homoeopathy), Sri Rawatji.
This delegation arrived in helicopters for this season’s kutki harvest, along with the District Magistrate, the District Forest Manager, and many dignitaries. The leaders of Parliament coming to their small village has brought such pride to the people who live there and validated the importance of what they are doing for the world: saving the most precious herbs of the Himalayas.
For generations, local tribal and village farmers were taken advantage of by corporate traders and dishonest middle men who manipulated them to accept prices far below fair market value. Due to extreme temperatures, rugged Himalayan terrain, and price gouging, growing these herbs has been neither profitable nor sustainable for decades.
As a result, many of the rare high Himalayan herbs are now endangered and/or on the brink of extinction.
At Last, Fair Trade High Himalayan Farming
With the support of many individuals and endangered species projects like RARE, Prashanti and The Dunagiri Foundation have organized a High Himalayan Farmers Guild, in which all the farmers from different villages are negotiating fair trade pricing as a unified farmers’ guild or co-op—no more price gouging; one price for all farmers.
We RecommendEpisode 57: Protecting Endangered Herbs – An Interview with Prashanti de Jager, Master Herbalist
Most incredibly, in just 3 years, the revenue to the farmers has increased by four times! Through years of effort from Prashanti and the Dunagiri Foundation, there is a cultural revival happening in these once very poor and ravaged villages. Native customs, dignity, and traditions are being revived as people return to the villages because now the farming of these high-altitude herbs has become sustainable and profitable.
Now with full AYUSH Ministry backing, the 15 years of hard work from the Dunagiri Foundation seems to be coming to fruition.
You Can Make a Difference
Thank you to all who purchased our kutki over the past year and experienced the benefits of one of the most powerful liver and gall bladder herbs, grown in one of the most pristine environments left on the planet.