Virtually in all cultures worldwide, people have been using plants as a source of medicines and spices. However, during the last decades, the transition from subsistence to market-based economies has created a serious impact on all aspect of natural resource base including medicinal plants. Furthermore, indigenous medicinal knowledge and tradition is being lost. This study was carried out in Upper Mustang, Nepal, to understand the status, use and management of Jimbu (Allium spp.), a perennial herb. Specifically, I studied local people’s knowledge on the uses, contribution to household cash income from the sale, availability in the wild, and present management systems in the villages. Further I examined how the knowledge on the medicinal uses of Jimbu is affected by demographic characteristics of the people, and who are most likely to participate in the collection, and sale. I administered semi-structured questionnaires to household representatives. Forty six percent of the households have been using Jimbu as a traditional medicine to cure some kinds of human and livestock illnesses whereas, ninety three percent of the households have been using it as a spice. Fifty two percent of the households were involved in the Jimbu collection, and each household collected 6.71 (± 8.22 SD) and 6.02 (± 7.76 SD) kilograms (air dried weight) in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Twenty three percent of the households were involved in Jimbu trade each year. The total amount of Jimbu that was collected for trading purposes were 2,493 and 2,532 kilograms in 2003 and 2004, respectively. The average household cash income from the sale of Jimbu was Nepalese Rupees 4,516 (± 4,623 SD) (US$ 59) and 4,827 (± 44,973 SD) (US$ 68) in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Jimbu’s contribution to the household cash income is estimated to 10.41 % (± 6.79 SD). In the perception of local people of Upper Mustang, the availability of Jimbu in the wild is decreasing. There is no active management system in the village for the Jimbu. People’s knowledge on the medicinal uses of Jimbu is significantly related to the sex of the users. The participation in Jimbu collection is significantly influenced by age, sex and literacy of the people. Male and literate people who are young (20 to 39 years old) participate more in Jimbu collection than adults (40 to 59 years) and old (older than 59 years). The cash income from Jimbu to the household is significantly and positively influenced by the involvement of one of the household members in seasonal trade. Jimbu is widely used as a spice and medicine, and has a significant contribution to the household cash income. Sustainable use of it may be attained if rotational or alternate sites harvesting systems is introduced in the wild and further domestication on the private land is encouraged.
medicinal plants; NTFP; ethno-botanical knowledge; seasonal trade; cash income; regression model