The beautiful village of Dubar can be reached after a very enthralling and wonderful hike full of jungles, twisting and turning rivers, and occasional meet and greets with the local coming down or going up the paths. About half an hour walk from Dalal brings you to chiti V.d.c in lumjung, and a couple more hours hike from there gets you to Dubar. You can also get a glimpse of tea plantation that has recently started in Dubar. The reason for my visit to Dubar is study on climatic changes and livelihood of the people. It turned out to be an amazing learning experience and a practical lesson to my otherwise theoretical understanding.
Dubar is quite well known among people as a place with beautiful scenery, and also come here en route besi sahar. It is also like an intermediate place through which people get to barah pokhari. All in all, it is a beautiful place with very hospitable and friendly locals. After our long hike from Tilar to Purano Dubar, we were met with a local, and he offered to provide us assistance in finding lodging and fooding for our stay. The house that we stayed in is also known as the most hospitable household in the area, and we were lucky that way. The “Aama” of the household was always calling us her own daughters and taking really good care of us, with timely food and a cosy room. They also took us to all the households personally and were a constant guide, translating the locals when we did not understand, and telling us all about the place and lifestyle.
Most of the people here are tamangs, and have always practiced subsistence farming, that consists of maize and millet. There were instances when potato farming was also done, but a potato infestation disease resulted in potato failure since last few years. The locals also say that they have not tried experimenting with other crops, and it has always been maize and millet.
The disaster that most effects the people here is lighting and hailstorm. There has been a few instances of entire crop failure because of being hit by a hailstorm. When there are crop failures, the farmers opt for alternative income sources, like rental farming. Farming is also difficult because of difficult access to water. There is no irrigation system as a backup during drought. So, when there are erratic rainfall, the farmers do not have much option but to sit back and look at the devastation. The frequency of the hailstorm has increased since the past couple of years, and the lightning has also struck one home resulting in the injury of a mother and child.
It is also quite difficult for the locals to have access to basic services like drinking water and market. They had a community well that collected water from the natural spring. The water collected was sufficient enough for the locals to use for drinking as well as irrigation purposes. But since the last few years, the natural spring has dried up, drying out the community well too. The local believe that the reason is deforestation, that is causing the lack of water. Now, their source of water is a natural spring that is a couple of hours walk away. They bring the necessary water through pipes. Certain problems in the pipes like leaking, damage occurs sometimes, resulting in barrier to water. If it happens, the locals need to walk all the way to find and fix the problem in the pipe, and then go to the main natural spring to arrange it again. This makes their day quite hectic, as they also need to walk a few hours to get to the forest to collect firewoods. It is also an hour walk to get to the nearest market and health post. There is a local school in the community, but most of the locals dropout to assist family in farming.
Invasive species are proving to be another nuisance for the people here. Since the last few years, the invasive species are increasing in number, and the more the species increase, the more difficult it becomes to eradicate it. The only successful eradication happens when we prevent it and stop it in earlier stages. Now, the invasive species are everywhere. The locals have tried burning, and burying them, but say that none of their methods have worked yet. They also had goats, but say they had to give up on them because of lack of fodder, which in turn, was because of the invasive species occupying the niche. The forest are also getting quite full of them, slowly eradicating the originally found species. Important herbs are also lacking now.
A new path that the people are taking now is Elaichi farming. The household that we stayed in, first initiated the elaichi plantation, which proved to be quite successful. Now, many other household have also planted them as an experiment. The elaichi needs to be planted with a tree to give it shade too, so it is more like agro forestry. The locals are very hopeful of this endeavor, as even a kilo of elaichii fetches in about a thousand rupees and are currently looking out for market potential too. Along with this farming, they also go out to the Himalayan regions to collect rare herbs to sell in the market, which especially the younger generation take part in.
It was also very enriching to talk to so many senior locals of the place who each shared their own stories and talked about their childhood and lives. Many of them lamented about getting old now, and how they were very handsome and beautiful in their times, especially after looking at the pictures I took of them. They all seemed to wonder how fast time actually flies. Some of them also had been labor workers in foreign countries, but most of them spent their whole life in Dubar, from generations. They always had this twinkle in their eye when talking about the older days. The trip was therefore, very enriching, knowing about the livelihood of the people, their stories and their agricultural styles.