Vol. 3, Issue 3 (2016)
Processing and value addition of the underutilized agriculture crops and indigenous fruits of Bastar region of Chhattisgarh
Author(s): Neeta Dandsena, Ajay Banik
Abstract: The tribal populations of Bastar region of Chhattisgarh rely heavily on forest food gathering during the lean period i.e. summer and engaged in agricultural activities for their livelihood in the farming period. The weather conditions of Bastar provides congenial environment for growing a variety of underutilized millets and indigenous fruits. These crops belonging to categories such as cereals and pseudo cereals, legumes, vegetables, oilseeds, roots and tubers, aromatic and medicinal plants, fruits and nuts, have earned collective names such as ‘neglected and underutilized’ or ‘forgotten', 'orphan’, ‘minor’ crops (Padulosi et al., 2004, 2008). This paper attempts to study the potential of underutilized crops and indigenous fruit and their value-addition as well as popularization in particular found in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh through production to consumption system (PCS value-chain). The close adaptive relationship between the tribal and the environment has enabled them to grow, manage and collect many lesser known agricultural or non-timber forest species which are available only in the local markets and practically unknown in other parts of the world. The leaves, seeds, flowers, and fruit of many indigenous plants enrich the staple diet of the local populace. The local cereals such as minor millets namely Finger millet (ragi or Eleusine coracana), Kodo millet (Kodo, Paspalum scrobiculatum), Little millet (Kutki, Panicum sumatrense), Foxtail millet (Gatka, Setaria italica), Proso millet (Kosra, Panicum milliaceum), Barnyard millet (Sawan, Echinochloa frumentacea) and Red rice (Wild rice, Oryza nivara) traditionally cooked and consumed in boiled or semi liquid form (porridge) locally called as 'PEJ' and in fermented beverage, also indigenous pulses like Rice bean (Sutari, Vigna Umbellata), Horse gram (Kulthi, Dolichos biflorus), Field cowpea (Lobia, Vigna unguiculata) consumed in boiled form. Wild plant produces Vegetables like Ashgourd (Benincasa hispida) as Curry, Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) as dip (Chutney) and wild fruits like custard apple (Annona Squamosa), Tamarind (Tamarindus indica), Jack fruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), Ber (Zizyphus mauritiana), Jamun (Syzygium cumini) and Aonla (Emblica officinalies Linn) are consumed in ripen stage as fruit and are sold in local markets; they are produced in abundance in the forests in different seasons but lacking in value addition and food value. Aforementioned Underutilized crops i.e., Kodo and Barnyard millet based nutritious value added food items are also used to prepare popped millets, bakery items like biscuits and muffins, fried products like chakli, khakra, etc. Finger millet based ragi health drink (baby food), malt, multi-grain noodle, ragi biscuit, ragi vermicelli prepared from millet flour, and Red rice based fermented food items like ready to cook Idli, Dosa, kheer and pancakes mix snacks that will appeal to the younger generation as novel snack items. Rice bean (Sutari, Vigna Umbellata) as a dal, curry, soups ready to cook mix and sauces, Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is used in making herbal tea, soft drinks, Jam and Jelly. Indigenous fruit i.e. Jack fruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus) for chips, curry mix and pickle making Jamun (Syzygium cumini) for making squash and from Aonla (Emblica officinalies L.) Chavanprash, triphala, pickle, preserved candy, jam, syrup, juice and dried shreds are made. Publicity, awareness campaigns and training are important and innovative approaches of popularization will help in capturing the market share. Policy makers are to be sensitized on health and nutritional benefits of processed millets and wild foods on target populations such as school children-midday meal scheme and poor social groups-PDS system and health-conscious consumers.