These Cannabis Farmers Carry Out an Ancient Tradition High in the Himalayas
In a remote village almost 9,000 feet above sea level, a very old leaf is one of the only means to make a living. Their only problem: growing it is against the law.
Photos by Andrea de Franciscis
Approximately 8,900 feet above sea level, perched high in the Himalayas among jagged snow-capped peaks, is a small Indian village overlooking a valley. It has a population of about 800 people and can only be reached on foot. It is a three-hour hike from a drivable road along a steep path up the mountain. Here, women give birth at home, and distances are calculated in hours spent walking. Medicine is made of plants, roots and cow urine; cooking is done on wood stoves; and the woods are used as an outhouse. There is no central market — just a few shops that sell soap, cigarettes, vegetables, rice and rubber galoshes. And in the mountains surrounding the village, ganja grows wild.
The villagers say that a good season is when the police only show up once or twice with machetes and weed killer to destroy their cannabis crops. Twice is only a drop in the ocean: it’s almost impossible for the authorities to counter the illegal farming that takes place here.