Exploring the role of diverse underutilized nutri-crops on food and nutritional security of ethnic communities in Eastern Himalaya

Sarkar, Sujit ; Sangeetha, V ; Gurung, Natasha ; Mahra, G S; Priya, Satya ; Venu, Lenin ; Joshi, Pratibha ; Barman, Dwijendra ; Singh, Premlata


The role of traditional underutilized food in fulfilling the nutritional requirements of rural communities is acknowledged across the world. The Sikkim and Darjeeling Himalaya is considered as one of the hotspots of diverse underutilized nutritious crops and vegetables. Though the earlier generation used those diverse traditional nutri-crops to fulfill food and nutritional requirements, their usage and cultivation have declined over the period. The new generation is not aware of the nutritional values of these local crops. In this context, the present study was conducted to document the traditional nutri-crops of Sikkim and Darjeeling Himalaya, and to suggest future policies for mainstreaming these traditional crops into the farmers’ existing cropping system. Participatory rationality analysis technique was conceptualized and used to understand the usage of different traditional nutri-crops in the region from a sample of 560 farmers. The findings revealed that the rationality index score of Ishkush (Sechium edule) was highest (4.66) followed by Chuche Karela (Momordica charantia L.- 4.38) and Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo-4.37). The crops with highest perceived medicinal (4.86) and nutritive value (4.93) was Ishkush (Sechium edule). The major recommendation for popularizing the traditional nutri-crops was ‘Ensuring better price for traditional nutri-crops (81%)’ followed by ‘Start research initiative specifically on local unexplored nutri-crops to enhance their productivity (80%)’, and ‘Demonstrating the potential of indigenous nutri-crops in fighting malnutrition through extension agents (78%)’.


Food and nutrition security, Mainstreaming strategies, Traditional nutri-crops

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