Throughout India and Southeast Asia, indigenous farmers continue to grow cannabis and make hashish using methods passed down for untold generations. Despite a boom in demand and a global push to end prohibition, these traditional cannabis production communities continue to struggle economically, as changes in climate and encroaching tourism and development threaten their existence.
Being there made me want to visit all of these kinds of places, meet the people, try to understand their culture, and then educate others about it. That includes the challenges they face, and how the landrace varieties of cannabis they grow are endangered.
Ancient Himalayan strains, grown at the source
Packaged cannabis seeds like these can be found at local markets in remote regions of India and Pakistan. (Courtesy of Indian Landrace Exchange)
“When I visited the village, the plants were fully flowered. The smell was thick in the air everywhere.” – Deepak Chaudhary, Indian Landrace Exchange founder
Leafly: What’s a good example of how this changes the dynamic for farmers?
Our intention is to preserve, reproduce and distribute the finest examples from around the world, from sativas to indicas. We want to pass on these pure “foundation strains” so as to not lose them forever in a world dominated by hybridized and feminized cannabis varieties.
Today’s cannabis has been mixed to the extent that many have lost their original mystic and power, giving way to the unnatural demands of today’s grower. These modern day strains get nowhere near the purity and clarity of their ancestral families as all of the original “power phenos” are lost within the process of cross breeding.
Furthermore these new strains require a lot of nutrients that are derived from the carbon fossil world adding on to the depleting of Mother Nature. Our mission is to bring all these amazing strains back to the forefront of the cannabis community! Saving the future of cannabis by preserving its past.
Manipuri is a strong, landrace sativa strain with a long flowering time sourced from Imphal Valley, in the Indian state of Manipur, located in Northeast India on the Myanmar border. Cultivated by the Meitei people of Manipur, who have a long tradition of growing cannabis. The plants grow up to 4 meters tall and with most phenotypes colored green, while the prized chahao (black sticky rice) phenos are dark purple. Citrus and earthy flavors, similar to a Thai or Lao strain but distinctly smooth. Harvest outdoors is late in December or even January.
Parvati is a resinous charas landrace strain from the Parvati Valley region of the Indian Himalaya. Parvati plants make soft, sticky charas akin to the famed Malana Cream, included above on this list. Parvati seeds germinate into tall, lanky plants that can reach over 15 ft. tall with long internodes and sparse buds, similar to other Himalayan landrace strains. A good strain for growing outdoors in damp, northern climates that handles rain, humidity, and wind well. The buds are floral, fruity, and very hashy. Seeds are sourced personally in Parvati by RSC.
Congolese is a well-known tropical landrace strain sourced from equatorial Africa. The majority of Congolese plants grow tall and willowy with enormous stretch–expect 6–8 times size gains over a lengthy flowering cycle. The buds are quite dense and have a range of complex aromas, from chocolate all the way to leather. Long-lasting, euphoric high. This particular seed line has undergone several generations of selective breeding to ensure success both outdoors and indoors. It is believed to be a pure inbred line that has not been crossed to modern hybrids, ideal for breeders and fans of old-school cannabis.
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Sinai is a cannabis strain cultivated deep in the desert mountains of Egypt by the Bedouin tribes in the wadis of the Sinai Peninsula, where the plants are grown in camel dung and occasionally mud sourced from the Nile. The demanding, hot 100°F summers help to create a hardy, heat-resistant plant. Two main phenotypes are seen when grown from seed—a shorter indica that grows in a Christmas tree shape, and a taller sativa that grows like a vine. Sinai is ready to harvest outdoors from late September to early October. Its foxtail buds are slightly airy, covered in resin, and give a blissful effect. Seeds obtained personally in Sinai.