December 19, 2017

Preserving tribal ethos - a step forward by Tata Steel Sukinda Chromite Mine

Star hotel chefs assessed tribal cuisines for adoption in their menu at agro forest food Diversity Festival. More than 50 rare varieties of indigenous paddy, 40 varieties of raggi and more than 80 varieties of tribal food were on display

Sukinda: As a measure of encouraging conservation and promotion of biodiversity and tribal culture, Sukinda Chromite Mine (SCM) of Tata Steel in Jajpur district of Odisha organised an agro-forest food diversity festival ‘Prajatiya Khadyotsav’ on December 18, 2017. This is a part of a series of initiatives that SCM has been undertaking to contribute to the national biodiversity target of 2020.

Dignitaries at the 'Prajatiya Khadyotsav' addressing the gathering

The second edition of the Khadyotsav showcased an array of agro-food diversities among different ethnic and tribal groups of the region and other parts of the state. MS Swaminathan Research Foundation’s (MSSRF) Jeypore unit displayed 50 rare near extinct indigenous collections of paddy such as Samudrabali, Machhaknta, and Kalajira. Over 20 varieties of raggi, like bada mandia, dasahara mandia, and sana mandia along with 2 types of foxtail millet and 41 varieties of plant parts used for medicinal purposes were also displayed. On the occasion, successful vegetable farmers of the nearby village Nagada were felicitated and given agricultural implements.

An exhibition of more than 80 varieties of ethnic and age-old traditional and tribal food was set up. There were 30 varieties of traditional cake called Pitha (in local parlance), 10 types of rice, 25 types of curry, 35 types of roots and tubers which the tribal community have been using for ages. Exotic items such as black carpenter ant chutney, bamboo shoot pickle, country chicken khichdi, cakes made of mahul flower, etc were also a big hit among the visitors attending the exhibition.

Experienced chefs of star hotels of Bhubaneswar like Mayfair, Trident, and Ginger assessed the cuisines, interacted with the participants and checked the feasibility of adopting some of the delicacies on their menu. In November, SCM had facilitated the visit of four women of Sukinda for a visit to Taj Bengal to display their culinary skills. These four women also displayed food items there and were felicitated.  Around 200 tribal women had displayed their dishes in 30 stalls.

Appreciating this initiative of Tata Steel, chief guest Preeti Ranjan Gharai, MLA, Sukinda, said, “Programmes like these will go a long way in promoting the cause of biodiversity and helping in preserving the dying ethnic and tribal food habits of Odisha.”

Star hotel chefs assessing tribal cuisines for adoption in their menu at agro-forest food diversity Festival

Speaking on the occasion RR Satpathy, general manager, operations, ferroalloys and minerals division, Tata Steel, said, “This was part of a series of similar events SCM has been undertaking to contribute its bit towards the Sustainable Development Goal of United Nations which wants to strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world's cultural and natural heritage. It will also help spread awareness on rich tribal food diversity of the region.”

Commending Tata Steel for the programme Bijya Parida, senior chef of hotel Mayfair said, “Local delicacies like Khir Kakra, Kanti (a sweet dish made of black gram cakes), mischi ki sag (a kind of spinach) are very good and can be introduced in hotel’s Odia food restaurant.”   

Other dignitaries present on the occasion included Pratap Patra, Member, Zilla Parisad, Sukinda block, Rajesh Patel, chief, mining, SCM, Harihar Barik, General Secretary of the SCM Workers’ Union, local PRI members, employees of Tata Steel, members of union and villagers.