Countering the destruction of Wayanad’s well-balanced ecology: Establishing home gardens in tribal hamlets – Kerala

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Wayanad is quite rich in species that are important for food security, which, over the years, have fallen into disuse due to a multitude of reasons. Wayanad is also well-known for a high degree of endemism and species richness of the flora which is also at great stress. The landscape of Wayanad is an interspersing of valleys and hills with forests, coffee and tea plantations, paddy fields, vegetables and other crops. Recently, paddy fields are facing the increased onslaught of replacement with commercial crops that are sprayed with pesticides and insecticides which destroy the well-balanced ecology of the area. […]

The cultural and spiritual importance of yam diversity as well as their value as food is well recognized by the indigenous communities. However, many cultivars of the edible Dioscorea are being discarded due to erosion of cultural values and popularity of potatoes. To redress the issue, CAbC established Community Seed Banks and integrated it with on-farm conservation through farmers’ groups. Identification of traditional farmers, collection of planting materials of 23 cultivars, collaboration with research institutes like Central Tuber Crops Research Institute (CTCRI), Thiruvananathpuram, Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI), Mysore and Regional Research Laboratory (RRL), Thiruvanathapuram through their technical inputs for nutritional analysis as well as value-addition and also, establishment of market linkages marked the initial years. . […]

By 2007, the work on the under utilized food crops led to the launch of a pilot initiative of establishing home gardens in tribal hamlets. Currently, it is being implemented in five tribal hamlets (250 tribal households) at Ponkuzhy, Kadambakattu and Kuzhimoola (Kattunaikka as inhabitants); Ponkuzhy and Kuttimoola (Paniya as inhabitants), as a result of the success of the first intervention at Ponkuzhy Kattunaika Colony, Muthanga.

The programme, though slow in spreading, has made impressive strides as the usually reluctant tribal communities are now enthusiastically preparing the cultivation space well in advance and assembling the seed materials on their own. A remarkable change is in the scenario of people who are now cooking tubers in the lean months in contrast to the earlier years when it was difficult for them to get food. This is attested by the local teachers as school children are no longer clamouring for food by 10 in the morning! […]

Source: “Biodiversity-Wayanad”, MSSRF (M S Swaminathan Research Foundation)
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Date Visited: Sat Jul 12 2014 20:49:47 GMT+0200 (CEST)

Learn from M S Swaminathan – a world renowned scientist – how biological diversity contributes to public health, people’s livelihood and environmental security in addition to food security: his call on fellow citizens to use and share resources in a more sustainable and equitable manner; outlining the long journey from the 1992 Earth Summit to a commitment to foster inherited knowledge through India’s Biodiversity Act and Genome Saviour Award; an award intended to reward those who are “primary conservers” – guardians of biological diversity!

More about the work of his foundation which “aims to accelerate use of modern science and technology for agricultural and rural development to improve lives and livelihoods of communities.” – | Regarding the issues of food security raised above, and the nutritional value of indigenous grains, seeds and millets, read an in-depth report that concludes that “the tribal food basket has always been ­diverse and nutritious” >>

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