Dear nature lovers,
Greetings from oikos !
One of the important life-sustaining activities, even for tribals, is ‘agriculture’.
Most of the tribal and rural people use both plain land and sloping land for cultivation. They cultivate traditional rice cultivars in plain area i.e. paddy and cultivate coarser millets on slopes by shifting cultivation. For example, In Maharashtra Madiya tribe in remote Gadchiroli district grows millets like Kosri, Gurra, and rice cultivars like Luchai, Kakeri Sapri, Chudi etc. in paddy.
In extremely remote areas, it is basically a polyculture system wherein few types of rice or millets are grown together in one field. Sometimes millet seeds are mixed together and broadcasted in a single field and sometimes those are sown separately in smaller plots within one field.
These are grown mainly on nature’s subsidy and without much external boosters like pesticides and chemical fertilizers available in the market. They believe whatever grows against nature’s odds becomes tough and best to eat. Surprisingly, they don’t bother much if some part of the crop is lost due to pests or any other reason.
Traditionally, mostly cow dung, tree leaves-branches were used as fertilizers. They have traditional remedies to repel pests like laying leaves of Kala Kuda (Wrightia tinctoria) in paddy for controlling certain rice diseases or by burning resin of Dikemali (Gardenia resinifera) in Moha (Madhuca latifolia) oil in the centre of the field on a right day and timing in early morning. They also believe in and have been experiencing that every year they have different quantum of produce. If at all they have the best yield in one year, they don’t even do cultivation in the following year. But sometimes they also experience consecutive loss for two-three years. But because they have multiple sources of food namely stored grains from previous years, forest food like dried fruits, nuts, seasonal vegetables and tubers, they don’t starve to death. So one can also witness altogether different philosophy for living !
With the reach of modernization and exposure, such traditional practices are changing very fast. Monoculture is common, so also the spread of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Because it is easy to grow single cash crop with the help of market products, traditional knowledge is being lost very fast... and thus the philosophy of cultivation !
Ketaki & Manasi
With Team oikos !
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