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Agro-forest food diversity festival Prajatiya Khadyotsav at Sukinda chromite mine

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Jamshedpur, Feb. 19: In order to encourage the conservation of biodiversity and ethnicity, the Sukinda Chromite Mine (SCM) of Tata Steel in Jajpur district of Odisha organized an agro forest food diversity festival ‘Prajatiya Khadyotsav’.

This is a humble initiative of SCM to contribute to the National Biodiversity target of 2020, said a press communiqué issued by the company on Friday.

The one-day event showcased an array of agro-food diversities among different ethnic groups of Odisha. M S Swaminathan, Research Foundation’s (MSSRF) Odisha unit, Biju Patnaik Medicinal Plants Garden and Research Centre of Koraput led by its senior scientist Dr. Kartik Lenka displayed 100 rare and near extinct indigenous collections of paddy like khuji, butuki, jhupuramundi, chitipiti, etc. Besides tribal farmers of Koraput, Raimati Ghiuria having 40 indigenous varieties of rice alasikba, duburaj, bagadichudi, cheteka, etc. and 12 varieties of finger millets silijanha, janha, etc. and Tularam Balia having collection of 97 indigenous varieties of paddy like jakasaru, muktabali, haladichudi, etc. shared their experiences.

Another exciting part of the program was exhibition and cooking of ethnic and age old traditional food where more than 60 varieties of those were displayed. There were 22 varieties of traditional cake called Pithain local parlance, 5 types of rice, 13 types of ethnic curry, 15 types of roots, tubers and many more. There was also live cooking demonstration by tribal ladies how to prepare unique mouth-watering tribal food.

Lauding this initiative of Tata Steel Dr Prasad Das, Sr. Scientist, Odisha Biodiversity Board, said programs like these will go a long way in promoting the cause of biodiversity and create more awareness on it among the people of the state.

Speaking on the occasion, Pankaj Satija, GM, Operations, Ferro Alloys and Minerals Division, Tata Steel, said this is part of a series of similar events we have been doing here like spot the species, leaf identification, green therapy, jaibakala vividhata to contribute our bit to the National Biodiversity Target 1.

While Dr. Paramananda Patel of Academy of Language and Tribal Culture, Bhubaneswar, Government of Odisha spoke on tribal culture and food habits, Dr B B Panda, Sr. Scientist of Central Rice Research Institute, Cuttack, explained to the locals how new quick growing paddy varieties can be cultivated in water scarce areas.

Sharing her experience 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 Laxmi Marandi, a tribal lady who had displayed tribal food lau simbapitha, a variety of rice pan cake prepared with vegetables, at the exhibition said, “We should preserve our food diversity for posterity so that they can know their roots.”

Other dignitaries present on the occasion included Bhagabati Mhanata, chairperson, Sukinda Block, S Mishra, IIC, Kaliapani police station, H Behera, Head, Underground Project, SCM, Dipak Behera, Head, MPP, Tata Steel, S N Pandey, President, SCM Workers’ Union and G Das, general secretary of the union, employees of Tata Steel, members of union, journalists, elected members of local Panchayati Raj institutions, and local villagers attended the function.

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