A mango competition

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					                                                                                    A mango competition
                                                                                    Aruna Kumara V.K. and Anand A.S.

                                                                                    Diversity is the law of nature. India is extremely
                                                                                    rich in bio-cultural diversity. In this article the
                                                                                    farmer’s organisation Krishi Prayoga Pariwara (KPP)
                                                                                    describes some of their recent activities. They work
                                                                                    in Sagar, an area in the Shimoga district of
                                                                                    Karnataka State in Southern India. One of their
                                                                                    major goals is linking organic agriculture and health
                                                                                    with the local environment.

            Traditional Indian food is highly diversi-    this traditional system. Moreover the go-      lieve that this will protect the house from
            fied; an ordinary lunch consists of many      malas, or communal grazing areas, are          the pollutants in the atmosphere. The ten-
            vegetables, grains and herbs. There are       slowly disappearing. Some organisations        der leaves of mango and jack are also
            wide varieties of dishes and any one par-     like KPP are working towards restoring the     used in Kalasa, a copper pot with water.
            ticular dish can be prepared in many dif-     ecological balance of the area.                The leaves energise the Thirtha or Holy
            ferent ways. KPP is interested in the rela-        Each of the four major communities in     water of Kalasa. A coconut is kept and
            tionship between the preparation of local     the district has its own customs, beliefs,     worshipped above the Kalasa.
            dishes, human health and agriculture.         norms and values. However, all of them             Two things surprised us in KPP about
                 In 1998 KPP invited schoolchildren to    observe Hindu festivals such as Ganesh         the use of tender mango and lead us to
            ask their mothers and grandmothers for        Chathurthi, Dashera, Yugadi and Bhoomi         further study. First, we found a large
            recipes for tambli, a traditional dish in     Hunnime and use nature’s diversity in dif-     number of varieties of tender mango in
            which many local herbs are used. Some         ferent rituals. Knowledge of natural diver-    the vegetable market in Sagar. They dif-
            160 different recipes were found! KPP         sity is important in weather prediction,       fered in size, shape, flavour and juice
            listed the different types of tambli, de-     crop production, pest control, natural fer-    content. This made us wonder about the
            scribed how they were prepared and re-        tilisation and food preparation. The peo-      mango varieties in the region and the
            corded their ayurvedic background. It         ple of Sagar respect bio-diversity and         quality parameters used by the local
            turned out that some 130 plant species        Mother Nature. Trees like Ficus religiosa,     population.
            are used in the preparation of the differ-    Neem, Phyllanthus embellica, Feicus                Second, it surprised us that local sell-
            ent tamblis. The parts used vary from ten-    glomerata, Butea monosperma, Jack              ers harvested the tender mangoes by cut-
            der leaves to flowers, fruits, seeds, bark    (Atrocarpus), Mango (Mangifera indica),        ting down the big branches. The mangoes
            and roots.                                    Ashoka (Saraca ashoka) and Bilwa (Aegle        were then transported by lorry to big cit-
                                                          marmelos) are used in religious ceremo-        ies like Shimoga, Bangalore and Chennai
            The area and the people                       nies. They are considered sacred and are       to be processed as industrial pickle. This
            The Shimoga district is situated in Karna-    worshipped.                                    worried us and we wondered why people
            taka in the Western Ghats, where the                                                         were involved in such unhealthy harvest-
            flora and fauna are rich and diverse. The     Tender mango pickle                            ing practices.
            main crops are the arecanut, paddy and        Pickle is an indispensable side-dish in tra-
            coconut. There are medicinal herbs,           ditional Indian food. There are many va-       Human relationships
            shrubs, trees, vines and fruit yielding       rieties including tender mango pickle,         Sri Anand, Director of KPP, expressed his
            trees, like mango and jack. The areca gar-    lime pickle and vegetable pickle. The ten-     concern: “We see lorries take some
            dens are maintained on soppinabetta           der mango pickle is famous for its taste.      250,000 mangoes to distant market cen-
            land, a forest area where the leaves are      Besides being used for food and timber,        tres every day during the 30-40 day har-
            used to fertilise the gardens. However,       the tender mango tree is also used in spe-     vest period. This is in the Sagar area
            deforestation and the use of soppinabetta     cific rituals. Leaves are tied around the      alone. We do not know how many more
            for commercial purposes are threatening       house and in front of doors. People be-        are taken out of the villages and neigh-

                                                                    Newsletter – October 1999
            bouring areas.”                                   tender mango, tender
                 This practice has several implications       mango in brine and
            one of which is that employment and in-           ready pickle. The judges
            come from processing the mangoes takes            were two farmers and
            place in the cities and not in the small          two housewives experi-
            villages. Moreover, due to industrial pick-       enced in pickle prepara-
            ling, the technology and know-how of lo-          tion and tender mango
            cal pickle preparation is being lost. The         selection. They judged
            younger generation is not interested in           according to eight local
            learning it because they can buy pickle on        criteria: size, shape,
            the market. Social relations are also af-         flavour, texture, stalk
            fected: the young generation no longer            length and girth, sap
            interacts with the older generation in the        content, thickness of
            process of pickle making. People have lost        skin and seed.
            the habit of offering a gift of homemade              Long, well-flavoured
            pickle when visiting friends or relatives.        tender mangoes with a
            Even during community gatherings indus-           high sap content and a
            trial pickle is now commonly used.                thin skin are more in
                                                              demand on the market.
            Tender mango competition                          Generally the villagers
            KPP organised a competition to find an-           prefer tender mangoes
            swers to the following questions. To what         from their own locality.
            extent are villagers involved with the ten-       Tender mangoes with 70
            der mango crop? Why are these tender              to 80 per cent of the
            mangoes being exported out of the region?         desired qualities are in
            How many pickle industries are flourish-          particular demand. Only
            ing? What is the state of the local technol-      a few varieties meet this
            ogy of pickle preparation today? What is          standard and most varie-
            the effect of the presence of industrial          ties fall below the 50 per
            pickle on the market?                             cent line. Nearly ten
                 The workers of the KPP team first pre-       varieties of high quality

            pared the small group of local people who         were selected during the
            would conduct a survey. This team devel-          competition.
            oped a questionnaire to collect informa-                                           Mangoes were judged by local criteria like flavour, size, shape and
            tion on the varieties of mango trees.             Some reactions                   sap content
            Questions included the local name, the            Nearly 150 local people,
            age of the tree, its fruiting pattern, yield      the KPP team and officials of the Govern-          cutting its branches. The growing demand
            and propagation. The team listed nearly           ment Forest Department attended the                for tender mango means that optimal use
            150 varieties and indicated that there are        ceremony. Local leaders and writers were           should be made of the trees.
            probably more.                                    also present. Mr. Patel, one of the partici-            Sri Vinaya Kumara, an official from the
                 In April 1999, with the help of the Kar-     pants exclaimed that he was unaware                Divisional Forest Programme, expressed
            nataka Forest Department, the Midi                there was much diversity in tender                 his department’s interest in maintaining
            mavina spardhe, or tender mango compe-            mango. “I was also unaware of the impor-           and propagating local tender mango varie-
            tition, was organised. During the opening         tance of tender mango preparation in hu-           ties. He congratulated Sri Devappa, the
            ceremony the co-ordinator of the team,            man relations in earlier days”, he said.           first known farmer to graft tender mango
            Sri Suryanarayana Halasinaghatta, stated              Mr. Sridhar wondered whether the               trees, and presented him with a grafting
            that the aim of the programme was to              variations in quality could be related to          kit.
            create awareness about the diversity of           the health of the local people. Some farm-              There were many questions and com-
            the tender mango and its quality parame-          ers proposed grafting and propagating the          ments from the participants. KPP staff
            ters. He also emphasised the economic             high quality varieties on a larger scale.          feels that this is just the beginning. Local
            and the cultural aspects of tender man-               Sri Thimmappa Hegde, another local             varieties of tender mango can be pre-
            goes and pickle.                                  leader, released two other products made           served and propagated for further study,
                 During the competition nearly a 100          from tender mango. He cautioned the par-           as well as other types of biodiversity.
            entries were exhibited in classes like raw        ticipants not to harvest tender mango by
                                                                                                                 Chitrakoota no. 14, II Block, I Stage, I Cross
                                                                                                                 Vinoba Nagar
                                                                                                                 Shimoga – 577 204
                                                                                                                 Karnataka, India
                                                                                                                 Tel: +91 81 81 28340
                                                                                                                 Fax: +91 81 81 28294

            The ceremony was attended by officials of the Government Forest Department as well as local
            leaders and representatives of the media

                                                                                 Newsletter – October 1999

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Description: A mango competition