Maharashtras tribal farmers revive traditional crops

Rahibai Soma Popere of Kombhalne village in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra is highly knowledgeable about agro-biodiversity, conservation of landraces, innovative techniques in paddy cultivation and the like. Her insight is based on experience, and hence when, she speaks in her earthy Mahadeo Koli tribal dialect, even experts listen intently.

The 54-year-old farmer has the distinction of conserving and multiplying 48 indigenous landraces of 17 different crops including paddy, hyacinth bean, millets, pulses and oil seeds.

The tribal households traditionally had a backyard garden that had multiple, multilayered and multipurpose indigenous trees, plants, herbs, and shrubs. The produce from this small garden was sufficient to meet the dietary and nutrition needs of a family for an entire year, Sanjay Patil of BAIF Development Research Foundation, a Pune-based NGO working among tribes in 16 states of India, told