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Exploring the world of roots and tubers

It is a discovery of the world of roots and tubers that were food for humankind for thousands of years before being supplanted by other forms of food due to the evolution of agriculture.

Yet, the health benefits of roots and tubers are well documented and the two-day roots and tubers festival in the city underlines this aspect.

Being held at Nanjaraja Bahadur Choultry and organised by Sahaja Samrudha and Rotary Club of Mysore West, the festival was inaugurated on Saturday.

Krishnaprasad of Sahaja Samrudha said that in times of natural calamities and droughts, tubers provide the requisite nutrition. Besides, when all crops fail due to vagaries of nature it is the tubers that come to the rescue of farmers and provide them income, he added.

A salient aspect of the festival is the collection of over 200 varieties of tuber potatoes by N.M. Shaji of Wayanad, Kerala. He said roots and tubers are nature’s precious treasure and they constitute the traditional food of humankind. If they were not preserved, there was no future, said Mr. Shaji.

Mr. Krishnaprasad pointed out that tribal communities like Jenu Kurubas, Soligas, and Betta Kurubas in Mysuru district have kept the cultivation of tubers alive.

He said that the drought this year had pushed farmers to penury due to crop loss and under such conditions traditional crops like roots and tubers could be  can be the solution to our food problems.

The organisers pointed out that some of the traditional crops including roots and tubers could be cultivated under dry conditions and the need of the hour was to popularize culinary delights that can be prepared so as to bring them into mainstream. There was also the issue of demand and supply and this could be addressed through value addition to roots and tubers so as to stimulate more demand, according to Sahaja Samrudha.

Apart from Shaji of Wayanad who has displayed more than 200 tuber potatoes, Nagaraju of Mugali village in Shigggaon taluk of Haveri district, exhibited some of his collections that were cultivated in the dry lands of North Karnataka. The organisers also felicitated a farmer, Balachandra Hegade Saimane, who organized tuber fairs in Joida and helped bring them into mainstream.

Tubers of different varieties, sizes, and shapes have been put on display at the exhibition of which a a 113 kg Huttari yam grown by a farmer from Hunsur – Thammaiah – was the main attraction. The exhibition features stalls of rare fruit plants, desi seeds, organic produce, millets , value added products, natural oils, honey, and sweet potato ice cream.

Besides, rare roots and tubers like air potato, purple yam, black turmeric, and arrowroot seed material are also available for sale. A cooking contest will be held at the venue on Sunday at noon and for the benefit of the public, a book ‘Cooking with Tubers’ will be on sale.

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