Timmur (Sichuan pepper)
Timmur is a “pepper” which grows wild in Nepal and is commonly thought to be a derivative of Sichuan pepper from China. Timmur can be found throughout the higher altitudes of Nepal and though it bears similarity to black peppercorns, it is not actually of the pepper family; it is the dried berry of a tree belonging to the prickly ash.
Timmur is one of those spices with an important cultural influence in Nepali, Tibetan, and Bhutanese cuisine, and also about 800 metric tonnes of timmur is exported (annually) to India.
Timmur is one of the few spices grown in the high altitudes of the Himalayas. It grows wild in immense quantities in in the Himalayan regions like Bajura and Myagdi where in season it is overly abundant. However in many mountainous villages, other than harvesting small quantities for their own families to use as flavoring for chutney, for making tea, or to grind and use with a mixture of masala, most of the timmur is left to waste.
The Spice Journal learned from a (summer 2013) visit to the Jadi Buti Association in Nepalkunj, that JABAN traders export about 800 metric tonnes of timmur annually to India, however the local village farmers feel that the export potential for timmur is much greater.
Considering that timmur has exceptional medicinal qualities, and is potentially a spice for use in the production of essential oils, villagers in Nepal are of the opinion that there is a significantly larger export market for timmur than JABAN is aware of, and the market would be better addressed in the form of essential oils distilled from timmur.
The villagers suggest that if a proper harvesting and marketing plan was implemented in Bajura, it would generate ample jobs and revenue to enhance the livelihood of the villages not only in Bajura, but the example could be used to harvest and process timmur in other districts where timmur is in abundance.
In that respect the farmers want the NGO’s (who are active in Nepal) to initiate a study of the timmur growth in the Bajura district, to ascertain the potential for harvestable quantities, and to define the export market potential.
The Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) has undertaken a “One District One Product” study identifying various commodities and products available throughout Nepal for potential enhancement to a viable industry. The ODOM study has identified Myagdi as another district with potential for timmur harvesting and production.
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