Centre for Advanced Legal Studies and Research, (CALSAR), Thiruvananthapuram


P.M Prabhu ,wildlife warden, Peechi Wildlife Division.

P.M Prabhu ,wildlife warden, Peechi Wildlife Division.


Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary with an extent of 90 sq Km, has 11 tribal colonies in its jurisdiction having 1800 tribal members. Muthuva and Hill Pulaya are the two indigenous tribes inhabiting in the Sanctuary. 30-40% of the extent of the sanctuary is under Rain shadow region. This belongs to Eastern side of the Southern Western Ghats where the availability of rain from south west monsoon is very feeble. 

As per the govt. policies in the state of Kerala, the tribes have been supplied enough rice [35Kg/Month for a family] as the main food for many years. This resulted in losing their interests in millet cultivation over a period of time. Gradually, the traditional cultivators have lost many varieties of millets during the last 20-25 years. That also gradually influenced their health adversely by affecting malnutrition, under weight, diabetes, anemia, goiter etc. 

Earlier, the tribal people ate various types of millets like Ragi and Thina (foxtail millets), Cheera (Amaranthus), Cholam (sorghum), Poosani (Pumpkin), Turmeric and Beans. These nutritious “super-foods”, as christened by the modern wellness industry, used to be a part of their everyday diet. At that time food was their medicine and medicine was their food. The protein-rich kodo millet, little millet, barnyard millet, pearl millet, sorghum and various types of beans largely helped them maintain their health. The millets are high in minerals like iron, magnesium, phosphorous and potassium. Ragi had rich calcium content; about ten times that of rice and wheat. And all of these foods were being cultivated on these very lands by the people, but the cultivation was lost over the years. 

Understanding these facts, Chinnar Wildlife sanctuary has ventured a project named ‘Punarjeevanam’ for conserving traditional varieties of Millets & other Traditional agriculture varieties of the tribes. The First phase of the project established its root during 2015-16

Thayannankudy is one of the Muthuva Tribal settlements in Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary, where Traditional agriculture practices have been followed successfully. Hence Chinnar wildlife sanctuary selected Thayannankudy Eco-development committee [Committee formed by the forest department and the tribal people] to launch the project. The EDC started to collect number of rare and endangered millet varieties from different tribal colonies which they didn’t use for cultivation for the last few years due to many reasons.  15 cent land has been taken by the EDC on lease from the farmers of that colony to originate this endeavor. With the aim to conserve maximum number of traditional millet varieties, we prepared mother beds at that agriculture field and commenced regeneration of the rare millet seeds collected.  By cultivation we enhanced the seed stock during 2016-17. During the first year, 8 Nos. of Ethnic Ragi [finger millet] varieties have been restored. Then we distributed various seeds to all the tribal colonies in and around Chinnar Wildlife Sanctuary to ensure its further restoration and expansion. During the second year, we could restore 15 varieties and by the end of this year [Third phase], the varieties of millets we restored became 21 Nos. From 2nd year onwards [2017], we have also stepped to the restoration efforts of ethnic varieties of Beans, Pumpkin, Amaranthus, Maize and many other traditional agriculture varieties.  

During 2017, the efforts for the same was noted by the Agriculture department and recommended for State Agriculture award. Eventually Thayannankudy Tribal  Eco development Committee was awarded as the best tribal community in the state considering the remarkable efforts for conserving traditional agricultural practices in collaboration with forest department.    

The main objective of the project named “Punarjeevanam” was to multiply the quantity of the rare and endemic millet varieties in maximum number of Tribal colonies in Marayoor- Anchunadu area. The conservation efforts were effective and for the last few years we have retrieved and conserved more than 30 Millet, 15 Nos. of Beans and other ethnic agriculture varieties through strict organic cultivation. 

During 2017, “Punarjeevanam” project was proposed by the Intellectual property Rights cell under Kerala Agriculture University for “Plant Genome Savior Community Award” instituted by the Protection of Plant varieties and farmers Rights Authority under Ministry of Agriculture, Govt.of India. The team of Scientists including the registrar general has inspected the “Punarjeevanam” project field during 2018. Eventually, this project became one among the 5 communities in India bagging the “Plant Genome Savior Award” worth 10Lakhs – one of the most prestigious National level Agriculture Awards.  

With the raving success of the project, running its fourth phase, Punarjeevanam envisages the restoration and wide expansion of ethnic agriculture practices in more than 25 tribal colonies in and around Marayoor- Kanthalloor areas. A separate Agriculture based Eco-development committee is all set to be formed ensuring the participation of farmers from all tribal colonies. In future, Marayoor- Kanthalloor areas will become a hub of Ethnic millet production.Such initiatives are vital for setting the direction of conservation efforts and ensuring a sustainable lifestyle.

‘PUNARJEEVANAM’DOCUMENTARY:                                              YOUTUBE LINK: https://youtu.be/oqlPoelmsc4

P.M Prabhu



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