Invitation to Adivasi Food festival on the 25th February at Bissamcuttack

February 17, 2014 0 Comments

Living Farms are organizing an adivasi food festival where both cultivated as well as uncultivated and / or forest foods that the adivasis depend on will be displayed on 25th February at Bisamcuttack, Rayagada. This is a unique event where people from a dozen tribes who live in the villages of Odisha, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra will gather with their local produce to tell us how and why they prefer their traditional food. Members from the Kondh, Koya, Didai, Santhal, Juanga, Baiga, Bhil, Pahari Korva, Paudi Bhuiyan and Birhor from more than 300 villages spread across the tribal heartland of India.

The idea behind this adivasi food festival is to show that traditional food culture of these people, based on their age-old agriculture practices, have provided food and nutritional security for them down the ages. If such practices are nurtured and improved upon, it would provide far better food security than the current public distribution system does and also help the communities and the forests in protecting each other.

It will be a colourful event with singing and story-telling in an unusual mingling of tribal cultures. Adivasi and Dalit children from nearby villages and schools will also participate in this festival
which will showcase the richness of their food diversity and local cultures. We will also be putting together more than 400 recipes for dishes made from locally cultivated crops and uncultivated and /
forest produce – a rich storehouse of knowledge that needs to be preserved and respected.

It is this thought that prompted us to hold the food festival. The imposition of modern agriculture systems based on the use of chemical inputs has had several adverse impacts, not least in undermining the traditional practices of adivasi farming practices. It has reduced the space for interaction among the tribes’ people who grow their food mostly through exchange of labour, seeds, skills and services. It has also destroyed the age-old custom of consulting one another on
farm-related decisions, etc.

This has begun to worry the elders in the community who fear the modern system is distancing their people from their once strong traditions and shared ways of living. They are apprehensive that their
customary support systems have begun to wither away as community resources are being converted into individual assets and individuals are being forced to adapt to the ways of the so-called civilized world where each man has to fend for himself.

The food festival at Bisamcuttack is aimed at deepening their communitarian ethos and shared knowledge systems. The event will highlight their sustainable way of growing food and their relationship with their ecology -the forest, seeds, land and food.

We hope to encourage the young adivasis to imbibe the significance of the old ways by listening to the stories and songs of their and to think critically about their future. We hope the event will help these communities to regain pride in their sustainable practices and reclaim control of their collective spaces. We also hope it will also prove to be a stimulating forum for sharing the associated ecological knowledge and cultural linkages that exist or were prevalent in earlier times.

The food festival on 25th February will be followed by a discussion the next day on ways to increase such linkages through collective efforts to protect tribal practices and thus ensure the harmonious
relation between people and forests.

We look forward to meeting you on the 25th February at Bisamcuttack, Rayagada.


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