On the banks of Sabari river, Poojari Jhansi’s thatched house in the Chintoor Agency in Alluri Sitarama Raju (ASR) district could not withstand the gushing Godavari floodwaters and collapsed.
The Koya tribal family had lost its entire traditional grain storage system made of bamboo by the Konda Reddi tribe, a Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Group (PVTG).
The Koyas store the harvest of all the crops — paddy, sesame and pulses — in bamboo baskets of various sizes. The seed is also stored in the baskets that are kept above their living space. Inside the thatched house, a portion is created with wood only to store the harvest and other valuable belongings.
“Every family is believed to have lost the storage facility. The baskets that remained under the floodwaters for days cannot serve the purpose. Our family has lost two baskets, each with a storage capacity of 10 bags,” Ms. Jhansi told The Hindu.
“Depending on the size, the price of one basket ranges from ₹500 to ₹1,000. For the enumerators, it does not appear serious and it will not be counted,” added Ms. Jhansi.
The bamboo baskets with grains are seen on the roads and nearby orchards in every Koya tribal hamlet hit by the floods.
“A basket can be used for at least 10 years. We are still preferring our traditional method of storage associated with the bamboo. We should go for fresh baskets to be crafted by the Konda Reddi tribesmen,” said Beeraboyina Raja Rao.
We apply soil mixed with dung on the new baskets to increase the longevity, he said.
Mr. Raja Rao himself had thrown away the baskets full of paddy into the floodwaters as the spoiled harvest would impact cattle health.
“It was during the 1986 floods we had lost our storage system. This July, it was a flash flood and its impact was unpredictable. The flood wreaked havoc on every aspect of our life and caused an unbearable financial burden to rebuild our houses,” added Mr. Raja Rao.
The fence erected around the thatched house is also made of bamboo. It is also done by the Konda Reddis.
“Except the bullock-cart, everything that was under water was damaged or spoiled. This time, rebuilding our houses will not be an easy task,” said Beeraboyina Ramakrishna, who lost the harvest reaped on 11 acres of land.
“Our last harvest of all the crops might have been reaped for the river,” a teary-eyed Ms. Jhansi told this correspondent.