Adivasi edible oils deserve more credit

Farmer Tekam Manku showing ambadi crop in his cotton field at Shivguda in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.

Farmer Tekam Manku showing ambadi crop in his cotton field at Shivguda in Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.  

They are low in cholesterol when compared to the ones processed in factories, says expert

In the tribal health and nutrition scheme of things, the use of ‘healthy’ edible oils to cook food does not get the attention it deserves despite the doctors pointing out the damage caused by adulterated edible oils that the local markets are flooded with. Hyderabad-based millet expert Ram Babu suggests that the government promote the cultivation of indigenous oil seed crops along with the promotion of millet cultivation, which is already being done in the Agency areas in Adilabad.

The aboriginal people cultivate sesamum or nung, churchal or nalla nuvvulu (black sesamum), kade or safflower, ambadi or mesta as inter crops for the oil and extract edible oil even from iruk or ippa or mahua, besides castor oil used for medicinal purposes. These crops have almost vanished from these parts but for the meagre extents cultivated by individual farmers like Tekam Manku, the Kolam farmer from Shivguda in Kerameri mandal of Kumram Bheem Asifabad district.

“I have raised three rows of ambadi as inter crop in cotton field. This will yield about 5 kg of edible oil obtained from crushing its sesamum-like seeds and 30 kg of fibre from which rope can be made,” says Manku, as he talked of the crop, the seeds of which have come to him as a legacy.

“I can use the oil for at least a month. The oil is almost transparent and tastes good,” he adds. “The consumption of healthy oil is essential for proper functioning of brain and liver and production of hormones. The oil extracted through cold-press process retains all its natural vitality and helps the endocrine glands function properly,” Mr. Ram Babu opined.

Adilabad District Medical and Health Officer Thodasam Chandu, who himself is a Raj Gond Adivasi, recalls the different types of oils that were part of the traditional diet of the ethnic people. “These oils are low in cholesterol when compared to those that are processed in factories and of course, the adulterated varieties,” he points out.

“It will be an effective measure in health administration if the traditional oil seeds are brought back into the stream. These crops do not require specialised cultivation and need only smaller extents to get oil sufficient for personal consumption,” he adds.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 1:43:13 PM |

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