Conservation of millets: the role of community leaders in Kolli Hills, South India
Traditional knowledge is based on vast experiences gained over centuries that is communicated from one generation to another. With growing concerns of malnutrition and dietary diversity, traditional food and cultivation practices are gaining attention of scientific and development communities. Efforts to extract this knowledge apart, there is also a need to understand how this has been transmitted. A shift from focus on knowledge to focus on practice may provide pathways to understand how communities adopt and sustain certain practices over generations. This study is on the role of community influencers – known as ‘Oor Goundars’ (village leaders) among the tribal communities of Kolli Hills in Tamil Nadu, South India – in conserving millet landraces. Using the Social Practice Theory, the existing role and importance of these community leaders is analyzed. The study finds that conservation of rich knowledge of social, cultural and agricultural practices reposed with traditional community influencers such as Oor Goundars is diminishing. It probes whether it may be possible to preserve or enhance traditional knowledge within its setting by increasing focus and attention on these influencers and the cultural practices that they impact.
Community influencers; Kolli Hills; Millets; Social practice; Village leaders
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