Kodo - A miracle food security millet crop in the hills of Manipur
Millets are small seeded grain crops consist of few varieties of which the most common one’s are bajra,jawar,ragi,barri,kangni and kodra and kodo.Of these, ‘Kodo’ -a Nepali name given to finger millet(EleusinecorocanaL.)is cultivated ,conserved and preserved only by Gorkha community in the hills of Manipur especially under Kangpokpi and Senapati districts(fig1) as discovered by Kh.Dhiren-an active research scholar working under the supervision of the writer during his odyssey survey in hills. In fact,Kodo- a poor man’s cropis less known in North East India where rice is a staple food and even if found only in certain pockets of Assam mostly in KarbiAnglong areas, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Tripura as most neglected crops but no report from Mizoram and Meghalaya.However, it is widely cultivated in Darjeeling and Sikkim hills as subsistence but sustainable crop as it is resilient to changing climatic conditions having less impact on its performance even under harsh and less fertile soil without much attack by certain natural enemies like insect pests and pathogens. However,with changing environment and deviationfrom traditional cultivation practices,minor fungal disease are showing its appearances without much damage to its yield.As this crop is not listed in Manipur state’s crop portal except astray mentioned by certain NGO’s,kodo is at the verge of its extinction from the farmer’s field if the farmers are not encouraged for it cultivation in large scale in the hills.
Numerous benefits of kodo include:less requirement of external inputs,provide food and livelihood security not only to man but also to livestock, can be grown either as sole or mixed crop,easily grown under traditional methods and most importantly they are miracle crop in their nutrient content in terms of proteins,minerals ,vitaminsand dietary fibres much higher to rice and wheat.In hills,kodo millet is mostly used in the preparation of probiotic drinks locally called Jaand.It is disappearing from Indian dietary system and confined only in traditional and marginal consumers although kodo is a multiple security crop for food, fodder, health and nutrition. For diversification of food system, miracle millet crop cultivation must be encouraged.
The writer is Professor, Department of Life Sciences ,Manipur University