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Growing kutki in the Himalayas

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The Himalayas are famous for being a source of many medicinal species; one particular endangered herb grown high in these snow-capped mountains, and which we’ve been working with, is called kutki.

Kutki is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties, forming an important part of many traditional Ayurveda formulas including the famous mahatikta grita, meaning 'extremely bitter ghee'.

In 2002, we teamed up with local partners in the Himachal Pradesh region of the Himalayas to cultivate sustainable, CITES permitted kutki – which, as far as we’re aware, is the first time this has ever been done.

7 years in the making

We began the project by researching how the plant is grown, which took us a couple of years to really understand its nature; and then we found the perfect location for the herb to flourish – it needs an altitude of around 3,000 metres, preferring cold temperatures to thrive in.

It took three years to grow our organically-certified kutki roots and then, because the trade of kutki is controlled under international law, it took us a further two years to come through the quagmire of red tape to be able to export it.

A crop worth the wait

It was a long project in its initial gestation, but the benefits have been worth every last effort – and they’re proof that with determination, and the brilliance of local partners, conservation of endangered Ayurvedic herb species is more than possible.

Watch Sebastian explain more about conservation projects at Pukka.

Meet the author

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Ben Heron, Sustainable Herbs Manager

My main responsibility at Pukka is to make sure the herbs we source are Pukka – in other words, that they are grown, collected and processed in ways that meet our sustainability, quality and Fair for Life standards. This means that I spend a lot of time visiting and working with our suppliers, and am often behind the camera taking photos and videos for the website. With a background in plant conservation, I am passionate about driving Pukka’s vision of ‘conservation through commerce’.

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