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Agro forest food diversity festival organised in Noamundi

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Noamundi, Nov. 4: In order to encourage the conservation of biodiversity and ethnicity, the Noamundi Iron Mine of Tata Steel in West Singhbhum district of Jharkhand organized an agro forest food diversity festival ‘Prajatiya Khadyotsav’ at Balijharan Park.

The one-day event was set up as a replica of a village showcasing an array of agro food diversities among different ethnic groups of Jharkhand. The Balijharan Park was beautifully decorated with all the elements of a village, cooking setups, miniatures along with the tribal hand painting at various places.

M S Swaminathan Research Foundation, Koraput, Odisha; Institute of Forest Productivity, Ranchi Birsa Agriculture University, Ranchi and ICAR-Indian Institute of Natural Resins and Gums, Namkum, Ranchi led by its senior scientists displayed various rare and near extinct indigenous collections of paddy like khuji, butuki, jhupuramundi, chitipiti, etc.

Another exciting part of the festival was cooking of ethnic and age-old traditional food where more than 98 varieties of dishes were displayed. There was also live cooking demonstration by tribal ladies on how to prepare unique mouth-watering tribal food.

The event was graced by Geeta Koda, MLA, Jagannathpur; Dr. Paramananda Patel, Academy of Language and Tribal Culture, Bhubaneswar, Government of Odisha; Mr. Benjamin Tirkey, District Planning Officer, Chaibasa along with Mr Pankaj Satija, GM(OMQ) and Mr K C Das, Head-Admin. The event witnessed participation from large number of people from Noamundi and nearby areas.

Highlighting the importance of the festival, Geeta Koda, MLA, Jagannathpur said that programs like these will go a long way in promoting the cause of biodiversity and create more awareness on the subject among the people of this state.

While Dr Paramananda Patel spoke on tribal culture and food habits, Benjamin Tirkey explained to the locals how new quick growing paddy varieties can be cultivated in water scarce areas.

Speaking on the occasion, Pankaj Satija, GM (OMQ), Tata Steel said: “This is part of a series of similar events we have been doing here like Spot the Species, Green Therapy–A seminar on biodiversity and ethnobotanical traditions, Dostur–A programme on HO language, to contribute our bit to the National Biodiversity Target 11.”

Sharing her experience Raimati Ghiuria, a young tribal organic farmer of Koraput, said, “We develop hybrid variety of paddy and other food grains, it is also equally important to conserve indigenous species to maintain the natural biodiversity.

Echoing her thoughts, Ms Mita Mahila, a tribal lady who had displayed tribal food dhalai roti and sujna saag at the exhibition said: “We should preserve our food diversity for posterity so that they can know their roots.”

This is a humble initiative of Tata Steel Noamundi Iron Mine to contribute to the National Biodiversity target 11, which says by 2020 national initiatives using communities’ traditional knowledge relating to biodiversity are strengthened, with a view to protecting this knowledge in accordance with national legislations and international obligations.

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