Why do you study agriculture in the Himalayas?
The introduction of fruit and spice crops has boosted economic growth in several pockets of the Himalayas. The surrounding natural systems [i.e., uncultivated land] provide a variety of ecosystem services to these man-managed ecosystems that keep crop production stable and sustainable; one of them is pollination. But ensuring that pollinators like butterflies and bees visit flowers regularly has emerged as a major concern for certain crops. Researchers have found that crops grown near natural systems have more abundant pollinators. This calls for urgent policy advocacy; natural areas adjacent to agricultural landscapes must be protected to maintain pollinator communities and provide regular pollination services for the sustainability of Himalayan agriculture.
A great moment in the field:
I am especially proud of my work on the revival of Badrivan [an ancient forest sacred to Hindus around the village of Badrinath] and the establishment of Kalikavan [a sacred, community-managed forest] at Koli Dhek. This work showed that science and religion can work together for the benefit of the environment and the preservation of cultural and spiritual values.