NUTRITIONALLY RICH WILD VEGETABLES OF TRIBAL COMMUNITIES OF NORTHEAST INDIA: GAINING INSIGHTS ON VALUABLE TRADITIONAL BIOCULTURAL RESOURCES
Northeast India is one of the mega biodiversity centers with a wide range of biocultural diversity. The region is characterized by difficult hilly terrain and diverse ecosystems. The region is unique in having collective decision making mechanisms and rights over biocultural resources governed and managed by traditional local institutions (kebang). Tribal communities have been using different wild species for food and medicinal purposes since time immemorial. Looking at the importance of such bioresources, efforts have been made to identify and rank these wild species on the basis of their relative importance in food and nutrition security. Conventional and participatory methods were applied to survey and gather data on wild vegetables. Ecological literacy tools, such as biodiversity contests among school children and recipe contests among village elders, were carried out to understand the dynamics behind the use of culturally and nutritionally important foods, and verify cooking and processing methods. Focus group discussions were organized and community maps were drawn showing availability of different wild vegetables. Taxonomic identifications were made and samples photographed and preserved as herbarium specimen. Culturally important vegetables were analyzed for proximate and mineral composition. Composition studies showed that some species such as poi (Basella rubra), dhekia (Diplazium esculentum), oyik (Pouzolzia bennettiana) and gaam oying (Glochidion multiloculare) are richer in minerals and energy compared with common vegetables such as spinach, amaranth, and cabbage. Results from the work indicate that these vegetables could be further promoted for greater commercialization in order to strengthen nutrition security in the region. Furthermore, the medicinal importance of species such as red ginger, Solanum spirale and Zanthoxylum rhetsa should be further studied to investigate on their nutraceutical or bioactive compounds. The need for more research on the development of cultivation practices for these wild vegetables is also strongly advocated.
Bhardwaj, R., Singh, R.K., Sureja, A.K., Upadhyaya, S., Devi, M. and Singh, A. (2009). NUTRITIONALLY RICH WILD VEGETABLES OF TRIBAL COMMUNITIES OF NORTHEAST INDIA: GAINING INSIGHTS ON VALUABLE TRADITIONAL BIOCULTURAL RESOURCES. Acta Hortic. 806, 243-248
traditional foods, proximate composition, ecological literacy tools