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JammuPromotion of Lac Insect Conservation in Jammu: A sustainable approach to Biodiversity...

Promotion of Lac Insect Conservation in Jammu: A sustainable approach to Biodiversity and Economic Development

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Lac insects, scientifically known as Laccifer lacca, are tiny but immensely valuable creatures that have played a crucial role in traditional economies and ecosystems across various parts of . In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the need to conserve these insects, particularly in regions like , where they can contribute significantly to both biodiversity conservation and economic development. Lac insects, the crowning glory of India's rich insect fauna, are associated with resin, dye and wax. Out of the nine genera and 101 species of lac insects reported worldwide, India is home for two genera and 28 species. Our country is the largest producer of lac in the accounting for about 50-60% of the total world lac production. About 25-32% of the total agricultural income is contributed by lac alone in major lac growing areas. Lac cultivation can be easily integrated with agriculture and has potential to increase the farm income in the rainfed areas of the country. Therefore, it is necessary to create awareness about the social economic importance of this valuable commodity with all the stakeholders. Beyond their economic value, these insects also contribute to biodiversity by supporting the ecosystems in which they thrive. They primarily inhabit host trees like Palash (Butea monosperma), Kusum (Schleichera oleosa), and Ber (Ziziphus mauritiana) which are integral to the forest ecology.

 

Lac cultivation provides sustained high economic returns, generates employment opportunities and has potential to pave a strong foundation in doubling farmer's income. Lac is a green product and it needs to be promoted among the farmers for supplementing their income and simultaneously women empowerment. There is an urgent need to recognize the importance of conserving of the lac biodiversity across the country and ensures its sustainable use. Lac resin has got innumerable uses – in surface coating due to its film forming property, electrical industries due to its insulation properties, fruit and vegetable coating for increasing the shelf life, cosmetics and also in pharmaceutical industries. Lac resin is source of many important chemicals including aleuritic acid which is used in cosmetic industries mainly for manufacturing proteins.

In today's context, lac is a good source of income for people depending on forest products for their livelihood. It also provides employment opportunities mainly in the off-agriculture seasons. Due to its natural, non-toxic, biodegradable, eco-friendly nature, lac has been in consistent demand in the market, and hence its farming or cultivation has been a profitable business. It is well known that beneficial insects especially lac insects, honey bees and silkworms have played a very significant role in livelihood generation for the mankind since time immemorial. In India several million rural households are dependent on the service of such productive insects for their livelihood. However, intensive agriculture, pressure of modernization, increasing deforestation and climate changes during the past few decades is threatening the existence of beneficial insects. Therefore, creating awareness about the beneficial role of productive insects in human life and ecosystem is the need of the hour in order to conserve them. Humankind must place whole hearted effort to save the endangered beneficial insect species to protect the fragile ecosystems and save some of the useful species from extinction. This is why the Lac Insect Day is being celebrated on 16th May every year. Celebration of National Lac Insect Day is a significant step to achieve this goal in this direction.

The conservation of lac insects in Jammu region faces several challenges. Habitat loss due to deforestation and urbanization, climate change, and the over-exploitation of lac host trees have led to a decline in lac insect populations. Additionally, traditional knowledge about lac cultivation and harvesting is waning, further threatening these insects' survival. However, promoting lac insect conservation in Jammu region offers a unique opportunity to blend biodiversity conservation with economic development. By adopting a multifaceted approach that includes habitat restoration, sustainable cultivation practices, research, community engagement, policy support, and market development, Jammu can become a model for lac insect conservation in India. Such efforts will not only preserve these valuable insects but also enhance the livelihoods of local communities, contributing to a more sustainable and prosperous future.

Such conservation efforts are being done Under the “Network Project on Conservation of Lac Insect Genetic Resources” ICAR-NISA (Indian Council of Agricultural Research- National Institute of Secondary Agriculture) Ranchi, SKUAST Jammu is actively engaged In conservation and Small scale multilocational field trials in collaboration with NISA at Jammu region The initial results showed that J&K could act as a vital centre for revival of lac cultivation with highest yield of brood lac. From the past twelve years, conservation initiatives enhanced the frequency of natural occurrence of lac insect in the region from 0.22 to 13.5 per cent. Therefore, its cultivation can be revived for the benefit of farming community of the region by scientific cultivation through systematic intervention.

The celebration of Lac Insect Day in Jammu had a multifaceted impact. It raised awareness about the ecological and economic significance of lac insects, encouraged the adoption of sustainable practices, and fostered a sense of community stewardship. The events highlighted the potential for integrating lac cultivation into local economies, thereby enhancing livelihoods while promoting biodiversity conservation.

Northlines
Northlines
The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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