‘Good Food’ and conservation in Kerala: Campaign Launched
Kalpetta, July 2016: MSSRF in association with Seed Care has initiated a year-long campaign to popularize use of locally available food varieties in Wayanad, Kerala. Titled the ‘Good Food Campaign’, it recalls the traditional practice of consuming at least 10 leafy vegetables during the monsoon month of Karkidaka in the Malayalam calendar. The campaign began on 18th July with a seminar for which Ms T Ushakumari, President, District Panchayat delivered the inaugural address.
Traditional food habits contribute significantly to improve the health of people, and the modern society needs to include traditional food items in their food basket for a healthy living, she said.
Dr N Anilkumar, Director Biodiversity, MSSRF is his presidential address said “Traditional food practices are closely associated with biodiversity of that region, and older generations used to give importance to live in harmony with nature by not over exploiting natural resources”.
Mr Keshavendra Kumar, IAS, District Collector, Wayanad, inaugurated the ‘Pathilakkari’ market where farmers showcase their locally grown produces, near the Collectorate, Kalpetta. The exhibition cum sale of green leafy vegetables at Kalpetta, will go on for 10 days.
Mr Divakaran, an expert farmer, spoke on ‘Ten Edible Leafy Greens’ while Dr. Susha, handled a session on good food for good health. Farmers from 30 village level farmer groups’ as part of MSSRF’s Grassroots Institutions programme brought their produce.
The campaign is part of a larger programme ‘Revitalizing Traditional Food Baskets for Nutritional Security’ that seeks to bring in traditional foods of both tribal and non-tribal communities back into the food basket. Participatory research conducted as part of this programme for past two years has revealed that the traditional food baskets of all tribal and non tribal communities are shrinking to market vegetables at a fast pace. Biodiversity depletion, degradation in the ecosystems and limited access to land are identified as reasons for this depletion.
MSSRF efforts are across through three dimensions:
Re-introducing lost crops in each hamlet through informal seed exchanges among the group members for maximum diversity in each home garden
Collaborating with social forestry to re introduce wild fruits trees, and bamboo to the community lands and promoting cultivation of wild leafy and vegetable plants in home gardens
Building public awareness on nutritional and medicinal importance of native food items, to help to revive the social status of these diverse food tradition and plants.
MSSRF’s Community AgroBiodiversity Centre, Wayanad has also initiated State-level annual community seed fairs and seminars for spreading messages of traditional foods and genetic material among farmers and policy makers over the next two years. This will help fulfil the main objective of the programme which is to ensure food security through biodiversity conservation.
The plan for the next phase of the programme is to develop ethnic food products utilising traditional knowledge of food processing and to market it as an income generating activity for women.
M S Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF) established in 1988 is a not-for-profit trust. MSSRF was envisioned and founded by Professor M S Swaminathan, agriculture scientist with proceeds from the First World Food Prize that he received in 1987.