Home Institution

The University of Richmond

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Nepal: Tibetan and Himalayan Peoples


In a plane high above the snow-capped jagged peaks and cracked earth of Ladakh, I stared down below with awe, wondering how people ever coaxed life from the soil in this mountain-desert landscape. The intention of this study is to see how traditional subsistence farming actually takes place and the social settings formed by these practices. Living in the village of Tar for a little over twenty days allowed me to observe the age-old practices in which nourishment is produced and community formed through working the land. Working with my hands and resting with cups of butter tea alongside villagers in the fields, I saw the interconnectedness of agricultural systems and the social fabric of Tar. Modernization, government subsidy, and the migration of youth to the cities are all contributing to slow but meaningful changes to farming and food practices in the village. Furthermore, perceived changes in farming and the foods that are produced and consumed in Tar are used to anticipate changes in the livelihoods of the Tarpas in the face of development. Future implications for agriculture in Tar are also discussed, of which sustainable development projects and the encouragement of young farmers are a light for the preservation of this rich aspect of Ladakhi culture.


Agricultural Economics | Agricultural Education | Agriculture | Cultural History | Education | Engineering | Environmental Sciences | Food Science | Government Contracts | History | Natural Resources and Conservation


Article Location