Sonam Jorgyes

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2009


This profile was prepared when Sonam Jorgyes was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Sonam is developing and introducing technological innovations to the agricultural community in Ladakh by building a sense of community ownership of resources to help rural markets and economic expansion. Sonam works in the Ladakh region in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, a region of high altitude desert that sits in the Himalayan Mountains. Despite the arid climate, survival does not have to be a struggle: The land and resources, if used properly, have the potential to generate economic success for the agricultural community. Sonam works with isolated communities to create vibrant rural trade economies by building trade relationships and interdependent markets between rural agriculturalists. He builds rural agricultural economies by introducing a host of technical innovations to refine rural finished products, making them more marketable to customers in other local communities, regions of India, and around the world. Sonam works with communities to empower rural citizens to take active control of their regional and global economic supply chains by complementing technical training with local capacity-building. He is working to equip rural producers to be competitive with imported goods, turning dependencies on foreign goods into self-sufficiency and abundance.

Sonam builds the community’s productive potential by combining local resources with new technologies, e.g. he has extended the growing seasons with greenhouse technology and taken advantage of the high altitude by using gravity-based irrigation systems to support water intensive agriculture. These technological innovations, along with a new sense of market ownership among community members, gives farmers the incentive to be responsible for the maintenance of their infrastructure, encourages them to develop improvements and experiment with new designs. Fostering a sense of ownership for physical infrastructure gives farmers the ability to make direct decisions about how to improve their existing greenhouses, which crops to plant, and when to bring their produce to market.

Sonam develops agricultural technology in a laboratory in Leh, where he trains students as rural innovation engineers. At the lab he works with young people from all over the world to design the next generation of technological innovations and create supply chains and systems of abundance. Sonam emphasizes the importance of community building for economic success, i.e. the young engineers work directly with villages to address their most pressing livelihood needs, they have started moving to work in other parts of India and even globally, taking both the engineering and community relationship development skills and applying them to the needs of other communities where resource scarcity bears directly on livelihoods.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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