Tribal yatra seeks to restore traditional food practices

Amit Bhatt, Daily News and Analysis | October 23, 2017

The Yatra covered 101 villages of 12 blocks in seven districts of three states and witnessed participation of around 20,000 men and women from tribal communities

Rati Ram, an 88-year-old from Gangar Talai in Banswara, though unsure of his own age, remembers that food was tastier and more nutritious when he was younger. “In those times, only indigenous fertilisers and pest control methods were used in fields, but now chemicals have replaced them. This has abolished varieties of leafy vegetables which used to grow with main crops. Gradually, we also lost our traditional nutritional food practices. I also remember people were rarely sick in older times when we used to cook the food in Mahua oil.”

Just like Rati Ram, several elders from Vagad (area of southeastern Rajasthan including Banswara and Dungarpur district) shared their years old experiences about local food and traditional farming practices for better nutrition in rural areas during Janjatiya Kisan Swaraj Yatra, which started on Gandhi Jayanti and concluded in Banswara on World Food Day.

“In Vagad, people used to say “Genhu Chhor Makka Khana, Vagad Chhor Kahi Nahi Jana’,” PL Patel, a farmer and activist said. “This tag line has its roots in food system of the region which was synonymous with general food habits where maize was the main constituent of the diet. But with time, the situation has changed and wheat has become the a major food grains, thanks to the public distribution system. Majority of other food grains which were part and parcel of our food culture also moved from our plate and reached the list of fodder,” he added.

The Yatra covered 101 villages of 12 blocks in seven districts of three states and witnessed participation of around 20,000 men and women from tribal communities. These tribal farming practices established that traditional food and agriculture has always remained the key to good public health and people have become vulnerable to diseases after losing the nutrition they used to get from traditional local food. To curb malnutrition, a return to growing traditional local food is a must.

WEEDS ALA LEAFY VEGETABLE

“This region has leafy veggies like Rajan, Luni, Dhimada, Dhimadi, Jhumka, Arri that are not available in the market but have been famous as nutritious substances in the tribal tradition and have the capacity to curb malnutrition in this area,” Rohit Samariya, Project Manager told. “Unfortunately, many such plants are also called weeds at many places but here these are used as leafy vegetable or herbal medicine. We have found Dhimadi to have carbohydrate, fibre, protein, Sodium, Vitamins and Calcium many times more when compared to Spinach,” he added..

   

 Source

Daily News and Analysis | October 23, 2017