Millet reigns supreme in Idukki tribal settlement

The millet varieties cultivated by the tribal people are extremely tolerant to drought and the farming mostly takes place without adding any chemicals to the soil.

Published: 20th February 2022 06:28 AM  |   Last Updated: 20th February 2022 06:28 AM   |  A+A-

Millet seeds being preserved by tribal women of Kulachivayal settlement in Idukki | Express

Express News Service

IDUKKI: Asked to name an important food crop grown around the world, most would probably say it’s rice, wheat or corn. Millets (ragi), the tiny round grains, will probably not make the cut. Unless you are asking a resident of the Kulachivayal tribal settlement in northern Idukki’s Kanthalloor locality. 

For the tribal residents there, millets are the staple foodgrain. They have been cultivating the grains for decades in their farmlands. The women in the settlement are the custodians of the millets, tasked with their cultivation as well as storing the seeds for the next season.  “Though the government provides us with subsidised rice, ragi has been our staple food for decades. It gives our children nutrition,” K Sivanraman, the tribal chief of Kulachivayal told TNIE. Several farmers in Anchunadu used to cultivate ragi earlier. However, as people’s food pattern changed, the demand for millets dropped prompting farmers to stop its cultivation.  

However, every April, the Kulachivayal settlement members spare at least 1 acre of land for ragi, which is cultivated collectively on the hill slopes near Mannavan Shola forest area of Anamudi Shola National Park. The cultivated ragi is not sold and is used for self-consumption instead. Katti, a pudding made from ragi powder, are made using the grain by the tribal people. “When I was a girl, I heard that we harvested nearly 20 traditional varieties of millets. Until 15 years ago, we had at least 10 variety of seeds. This has come down to just two,” she said.The millet varieties cultivated by the tribal people are extremely tolerant to drought and the farming mostly takes place without adding any chemicals to the soil.



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