The emphasis was on in-situ conservation of landraces. The Santal or Santhal, are a Munda ethnic group native to India and Bangladesh. Costumes of Santhal (Santal) tribe in India. Some others are cut, dried and made into flour and cooked. Eight years after starting their conservation efforts, the Dongrias have revived many indigenous crops. The santhals have their own clothing and distinctive draping styles. Continuous use of indigenous crops and involving farmers in crop improvement and plant breeding have resulted in crop diversity. The Dongria Kondhs of Odisha, one of India’s vulnerable tribal groups, have been living in the foothills of Niyamgiri for centuries. Thanks to the support and solidarity from community-based organizations, civil societies and international agencies, the Supreme Court of India gave a historic verdict in favor of the Dongrias, banning Vedanta’s mining project. Jerhul flowers available in spring are popular for their delicious taste. High-yielding crop varieties have resulted in the loss of numerous landraces with important traits. Therefore, Nyishi is the single largest tribe of the state. Panchi and Parhan is a traditional attire of the women of Jharkhand. Dongria women at a seed festival. Increasing farmers’ access to a wide variety of traditional seeds and planting materials will help them become more resilient to the ever-increasing climatic hazards. The fruits are cooked and consumed as a vegetable dish. Indigenous Peoples are putting their bodies on the line and it's our responsibility to make sure you know why. Tubers of certain species are made into curry, while some are boiled and eaten. “It has also been observed that uncultivated food acts as a vital safety net against the increasing trend of crop failure caused by climate change, erratic rainfall, and ecological degradation, including groundwater depletion, degraded soil and decimated biodiversity,” said Susanta Dalai. It can be stored for long periods. They comprise ethnic heritage of the habitants. Nyishis are expert in handicrafts i.e. Tubers play a crucial role especially in the lean season when availability of food at home is insufficient. Plant species such as chakor are sun-dried and preserved for use in off-season. Many wild plant species serve as important sources of protein, fats, vitamins and minerals. “Pulses and millets need less maintenance and less water but give high yield, ensuring food and nutritional security. Agriculture, livestock breeding, hunting and fishing sustained the Nyishis to maintain a high degree of self-sufficiency in so far as food is concerned. Mizo is a generic term to indicate several major and minor tribal communities of the state. • Traditional Dress of Mizo Tribe Traditional Dress of Mizo Tribe reflects the culture and heritage of Mizo Tribe. Early Nyishis confined their trading activities amongst the tribesmen themselves and with the people across the northern border called Nyeme chanam i.e. “Policies on climate change, conservation, food security and agriculture need to be integrated to recognize and preserve the importance of uncultivated food,” said Susanta Dalai. In other words one could call this food the real Indian food. Traditionally, the basic purpose of producing these craft articles was to meet the demands of the family.

Etymology. Thus farmers produce grain and seed, while maintaining landraces that are suited to the local conditions. The food was natural, safe and nutritious, cultivated and uncultivated forest food on which these adivasi tribes are dependent since ages. As part of sensitizing the Dongria communities on the importance of preserving indigenous crops, open village days were organized to provide a platform to discuss, share knowledge and raise awareness about crop diversity, besides preservation and multiplication of endangered seed varieties.


The Dongria Kondhs of Odisha, one of India’s vulnerable tribal groups, have been living in the foothills of Niyamgiri for centuries.

The movable properties include traditional valued items like Talu (brass plate), Mazi (Tibetan tongueless bell), Tasang (bead), Dumping (comb like item), Kozi (bangle), Huhi (disc), Oriok (sword), Raji, domesticated animals such as Sebe (Mithun, a bose front talis), Shey (cow), Sebing (goat), Erik (pig), Puruk (hen). Karmata, korkotta, pakare and badru are cooked and eaten as a vegetable dish. Some are eaten raw either ripe or unripe while others are consumed after cooking. We don’t need bio-fortified GM crops like golden rice when we have naturally bio-fortified crops such as pulses and millets,” said Susanta Dalai. Therefore, Nyishi is the single largest tribe of the state. That takes time, expertise and resources - and we're up against a constant tide of misinformation and distorted coverage. However, the additional requirements such as cloth, utensil, salt etc. With efforts involving the community, land races and uncultivated food systems are being revived to ensure food and nutrition security of the Dongrias. The people basically belong to Paleo-Mongoloid stock and speak the Tibeto-Burmese group of language. Now days people wear the sarees and dhotis whatever available in market. As per census-2001, Nyishi have having about 2.5 lakhs out of 10,97,968 total population of the state, which is the one third of the total Scheduled Tribe population.

Kala mali phulo is a lowland, drought-tolerant and flood-resistant indigenous paddy variety. (Photo by Susanta Dalai), Except where otherwise noted, articles on this website are licensed under a, IC is a publication of the Center for World Indigenous Studies (, The Dongria Kondh are reviving their indigenous foods, Dongria Kondh boosting food security after successful campaign against mining giant Vedanta, Sweetgrass Protocols for Culturally Responsible Journalism. • Traditional Dress of Mizo Tribe Traditional Dress of Mizo Tribe reflects the culture and heritage of Mizo Tribe. According to Ghana Majhi, a Dongria farmer of Sindhbahal village, his family used to grow 12 varieties of millets. They are equally important for ensuring food, nutrition, social, and economic security,” said Susanta Dalai.

The seed is crushed to yield cooking oil and the residual cake a is a valuable manure for farm crops. Farmers from neighboring villages were invited to observe demonstration plots. Special focus was given on sensitizing women as they possess knowledge and experience in harvesting forest produce and in preparing food from the same. Flowers are first boiled and then fried by adding salt and spices. Traditional crops such as millets, pulses and tubers besides uncultivated foods from the forests that ensured their food and nutritional security since millennia are on the verge of extinction. However, the additional requirements such as cloth, utensil, salt etc. The importance of this knowledge and know-how should not be overlooked while developing agricultural policies and schemes. It’s a three-month crop. There is a large number of uncultivated edible fruit plants. Niyamgiri hill range that spans across Rayagada and Kalahandi districts is also one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in the Eastern Ghats of India. “Uncultivated plants have multifunctional roles which add diversity to local food system, reinforce local culture and contribute diversity to farming systems.

Dalai is working on promoting conservation and rational use of wild food plants once found abundantly in the region. While the Dongrias’ resistance against mining got wide public attention, the other problems they face go unnoticed. Nyishis evolved a joint family system, generally no individual owns properties – both movable and immovable.

It is an honorific name given by Hindus and hence became a tribal name. “We collect flowers, fruits, tubers, leaves, stems, seeds, wild mushrooms, tamarind, bamboo shoots and edible insects from the forest,” Nelai Majhi, a Dongria woman, told VillageSquare.in.

The name "Munda" is a Sanskrit word means "headman".
Secondly, uncultivated wild foods form a major source of food security for the people in Niyamgiri. After a series of awareness campaigns on forest protection in several Dongria villages, the Dongrias now play a key role in protecting the forest from timber mafia and poachers. By supporting IC you're empowering the kind of journalism we need, at the moment we need it most. Farmers like Ghana were encouraged to revive mixed-cropping and inter-cropping of pulses besides finger, pearl, kodo, proso, little, barnyard and foxtail millets. The Santhal tribes are still found in few regions of eastern India they are West Bengal, Orissa and Jharkhand. bookmarks Follow IC on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The people basically belong to Paleo-Mongoloid stock and … Niyamgiri hill range that spans across Rayagada and Kalahandi districts is also one of the most important biodiversity hotspots in the Eastern Ghats […]