Bringing forgotten food to the plate


Bringing “forgotten food’’ back to the plate and giving a stimulus to their consumption so as to ensure nutritional security besides helping farmers; this is what the roots and tubers mela which got underway in Mysuru on Saturday intends to do.

Organised by Sahaja Samruddha and Rotary Club of Mysore (West), the two-day event has farmers from across the State showcasing the different variety of tubers and roots most of which look alike but have different nutritional elements. Elephant foot yam (Suvarnagadde), Fresho Yam (Aanepaada Genasu), Lesser Yam (Sannagadde) to name a few, may sound familiar but there are hundreds whose names are as exotic as their shape and size.

There are scores of varieties like purple yam which is used in ice cream and cakes though many varieties have not yet been documented, said Krishnaprasad of Sahaja Samruddha. “Certain tubers and roots can be a source of food security at the household level and our intention is to promote their cultivation in the backyard so as to ensure adequate nutrition for the local populace’’, he added. The need of the hour is value addition and this has to be harnessed, said Mr. Krishnaprasad.

Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar, of the erstwhile royal family, who inaugurated the tuber mela, said ever since the ascent of man from hunter-food gathering society to modern times, tubers and roots was intrinsic to human diet. It had many benefits as it could sustain in water-stressed areas, did not require chemical fertilizers and pesticides and was beneficial to the farmers as the input cost was next to negligible while ensuring food security. “Our health is dependent on proper diet and tubers and roots are essential to maintain a healthy body and we have to incorporate themt in our diet on a regular basis’’, said Mr. Yaduveer.

M.N. Shaaji, a farmer from Manadavadi, has conserved 120 tubers and roots, travelling across Kerala and even ventured to Andaman and Nicobar Islands to collect the rare varieties. Now he is cultivating them in his farm to produce seeds to propagate it among cultivators and has exhibited a slew of his collections at the mela.

The University of Horticultural Sciences, Bagalkot, showcased the different varieties of tubers and roots on which it was conducting research and propagating their use for nutritional benefits.

Suhas, who launched a start-up venture to produce ice creams using different varieties of fruits, jack fruit, tender coconuts etc, brought a novel touch to the mela by introducing ice cream made of purple yam. “We are in the business since two years and believe in the concept of small is beautiful. I am not into mass production but are content catering to local populace against order. Even the fruits, tubers and roots used in ice creams are cultivated on our farm’’, he added.

Among the exhibits was a tuber cultivated by farmer Pandurang Ram Gawada from Joida, Uttara Kananda, and it weighed 98 kg. The mela will conclude on Sunday.

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