Energy Farming Plants New Seeds

On July 28, 2008 the Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, PA hosted Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Central Tibetan Administration (the official Tibetan government in exile). During his visit, Professor Rinpoche met with the leaders of the Himalayan Institute’s humanitarian projects to discuss some of the struggles faced by Tibetans in exile and discover how the HI Community Center vision could serve the Tibetan refugees in India.

Professor Samdhong Rinpoche tours the gardens of the Himalayan Institute center in Honesdale, PA.

Professor Samdhong Rinpoche tours the gardens of the Himalayan Institute center in Honesdale, PA.

After the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, India granted asylum to the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans fleeing with him. Currently, there are 37 Tibetan refugee settlements across the Indian subcontinent, which accommodate over 100,000 Tibetans. The Tibetan refugees, despite displacement, have maintained their rich culture and tradition, but they face many challenges. Years of conventional farming have depleted the soil and decreased crop yields. Concerned for their financial futures in the settlement, the youth are leaving in large numbers to find other work in India’s urban centers. The community’s elders worry that there will be no one in the next generation to carry on the spiritual and cultural traditions of Tibet.

Pongamia pinnata seedlings

Pongamia pinnata seedlings

The Himalayan Institute in partnership with the Central Tibetan Administration is working to bring HI Community Center empowerment programs to the Tibetan refugee settlements. These efforts begin with the Energy Farming program, promoting sustainable agriculture and green energy. Cultivation of the Pongamia pinnata tree is a central activity of Energy Farming. Pongamia pinnata is a tall shade tree native to South India. It is drought resistant, nitrogen-fixing helping to reinvigorate exhausted soil, and most importantly, its seeds are an excellent source of biodiesel. Biodiesel can be used to run generators and farm equipment or it can be mixed with petroleum-based diesel as a fuel additive. This introduction to the energy market will supply Tibetan refugees with an important cash crop, which in turn will create more jobs and encourage the youth to remain in the community.

The Rabgayling settlement is located in the Mysore district of Karnataka, India. Click on the image for a detailed map of the area.

The Rabgayling settlement is located in the Mysore district of Karnataka, India. Click on the image for a detailed map of the area.

50 acres have been selected at the Rabgayling settlement to be used for the first Energy Farming demonstration plot where farmers can come to see how pongamia is grown. 10,000 seedlings will be raised in nurseries and then planted in the demonstration plot as well as along the edge of the settlement where elephants from the neighboring forest have been entering fields and stealing crops. Three rows of pongamia trees will act as a live fence, bordering a 12 foot deep, 9 kilometer long elephant trench keeping the elephants out. In addition, an Energy Farming training facility will offer classes on pongamia cultivation and other Energy Farming techniques. In time, with care and patience the seeds planted will bear fruit and these new economic opportunities will help to sustain the Tibetan community and culture.


For further reading see “Tibet in Exile—A Green Evolution”.

About these ads

6 thoughts on “Energy Farming Plants New Seeds

  1. Pingback: Planting a Biodiesel Nursery « Himalayan Institute Humanitarian Projects

  2. Pingback: Origins of the Himalayan Institute, Tibetan Collaboration « Himalayan Institute Humanitarian Projects

  3. Pingback: Preparing the Land « Himalayan Institute Humanitarian Projects

  4. Hello
    Am planning a trip to Mysore this weekend and would love to visit the project, and meet the disciples of Swami Rama and Panditji there. How can I contact you and fix an appointment? Please reply to my mail id above.


  5. Pingback: Khen Rinpoche Visits Honesdale « Blog | Himalayan Institute Humanitarian Projects

  6. Pingback: 2009 Major Activities and Timeline « Blog | Himalayan Institute Humanitarian Projects

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s