This paper presents data on marketing, value addition and management concerns of the wild edible plants of the Sikkim Himalaya. At least 23 weekly markets, locally called ‘Hats’, have been identified in the state, and three markets, viz. Gangtok, Namchi and Singtam, were studied in detail, for one year, with reference to the availability, quantity sold and retailers involved with the marketing of wild edible species. A total of 44 wild edible species have been recorded to be sold annually in the three markets. Among all the species, Spondias axillaris was sold in highest quantity and more retailers were involved in its business than for any other wild edible plant. Other important species were Machilus edulis, Diplazium esculentum, Eleagnus latifolia, Dendrocalamus hamiltonii, Agaricus and Baccaurea sapida. The rural economics of wild edible plants is estimated to be some 140 tons per annum, and the prices for various species have increased over the years. At Gangtok, prices increased 3 to 6 times from 1981 to 1996–1997. Analysis of the field data showed that the wild edible plants were an important source of income to the plant dwellers and subsistence for farm families. Value addition was done to a few wild edible species, and cost-benefit analysis showed that the income from the fruits could be increased by at least 3–5 times after making pickles, squash and jam. It was recorded that plant dwellers have open access for the collection of these plant resources, which often leads to their over exploitation, and the local state government at present lacks policies and strategies for protecting and promoting wild edible plants in any of its programs. It is suggested that suitable conservation practices and policies need to be formulated to conserve these plants in the wild habitats within the state.
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Vol. 58 • No. 2