'Gods Own Crops' shine at food fest

Member farmers of the DDS exhibited 11 such plants that grow before the Kharif season, in time to save them from hunger. PTI file photo

The Pastapur based Deccan Development Society (DDS), which has been leading a women farmers movement to save forgotten millets through annual biodiversity festivals, has organised first of its kind festival of uncultivated food crops. 

Known as "Gods Own Crops", these plants grow in farmers’ fields and are commonly called "weeds" unmindful of their nutritional and medicinal value.

Member farmers of the DDS exhibited 11 such plants that grow before the Kharif season, in time to save them from hunger. They not only explained the importance of each such plant but also cooked them for the enthusiasts who want to incorporate these “weeds” in their healthy diet plan.

Disha Consumer Movement, which is part of the food crops festival, took some of its members to the farms of the DDS in five villages near Pastapur in previous Medak district of Telangana and asked them to work with the farmers to understand the need to go beyond organic farming. During their interaction, they noticed that each woman farmer takes a certain amount of weeds to her home at the end of the day from the farm to cook them for her family.

Only Palak

“Urban dwellers know only Palak as a green vegetable but it has far less nutrients than any one of the 160 uncultivated plants that the DDS women farmers collect from their millet farms. They are right plants in the wrong place, that is all,” P V Sateesh, Director, DDS said.

“One must look at the total amount of greens that a farmer in rural India produces, including the companion plants, rather than looking at the yield of only cereals,” Dr Suresh Reddy from the Hyderabad based Centre for Economic and Social sciences (CESS) said, considering the savings that each farmer family will make from consuming these uncultivated crops.

Highly nutritious

Chandramma and Chakribai from Bidakanne village, acting as brand ambassadors of these forgotten plants, say that they are ready to supply the so-called weeds at the local shopping malls if there is demand. “All you need is to cook them and have them with bread (Roti). It's more nutritious than non-vegetarian food,” Chandramma said.

Uttarini (achyranthes aspera), Jonnachenchali Koora (Digera arvensis), Tella garjala Koora (Borhaveia diffusa), Adavi Soya Kura (Aurthum graveolus wild) and Gonugu Koora (Celosia Argentina) were some of the “voluntary crops” that were exhibited at the festival of uncultivated foods.

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