Bamboo shoot: A staple diet of tribals
VThe tribals in East agency, resort to take the tender shoots of bamboo as main food by preparing them as curry items. This eating habit has been in vogue for centuries and still they continue to consume it as their main food particularly during the rainy season
Many of the Adivasis have not abandoned the old practice of eating habits particularly during the rainy season for their survival, they rely on budding shoots of the bamboo as one of the main items of the regular menu.
As they strongly believe in the medicinal value of bamboo shoots they procure in the forest areas and utilise them in their regular food. Moreover, the bamboo rice is used by them and the availability of bamboo rice has become scarce in the East agency.
During the rainy season, the Tribals in East agency resort to take the tender shoots of bamboo as main food by preparing them as curry items. This eating habit has been in vogue for centuries and still they continue to consume it as their main food particularly during the rainy season. And they are also selling the small shoots of the bamboo in their market. This item contains fiber and is chiefly consumed by the tribes.
According to the tribals, the bamboo shoots have potential for livelihood creation. They suggested that poor tribals can make it a full time livelihood option if bamboo plantation is promoted in the forested pockets in the Rampa and Chituru agencies and other parts of agencies in the state. The shoots are also dried under the sun, cut into small round shaped pieces and turned into snacks. The young bamboo stems are taken out as soon as they reach a height of about two feet. The young stems are then cut into small pieces and dishes made. Fries, curries, savouries and soup are among the food items that can be prepared with the sprout. Certain sects among tribes eat bamboo rice as well as bamboo shots to ensure good health. This business booms particularly in monsoon as bamboo shoots are available aplenty in forests during this time of the year. They prepare various delicious dishes from bamboo shoots. And they prepare soup, curry, fry and other food items.
In the recent floods along with rains the whole Tribal territory was inundated causing heavy damage to crops. They couldn't get vegetables and essential commodities during the flood season and hence they solely depended upon bamboo shoots and prepared various dishes for consumption. As they couldn't get food supply from the government they resorted to the old practice of depending on bamboo shoots. During the flood period, some of the Tribes used the slices of bamboo shoots and cooked them for preparing various dishes and thereby satiated their hunger.
But, even after the rains ceased they continue to depend upon bamboo shoots. They are also selling the slices of bamboo shoots in the open market of the Tribal agency. As a result, the demand has increased and many people are using the slices for consumption.
A Tribal Yesuratnam said that the bamboo shoots have both nutritional and medicinal value as they contain calcium, fiber,potassium, iron and other important medicinal ingredients. Bamboo shoots have high demand in the market as people buy them for its culinary value. After farming work, the tribals go to the forest to collect the bamboo shoots."
He said that previously there was great demand for bamboo rice, but off late it has become scarce and non available. The process of securing bamboo rice is quite difficult and hence they stopped collecting and selling bamboo rice.
Bamboo shoot vendor and the Tribal Kusalavudu told that there is great demand for bamboo shoots particularly during the rainy shoots. He stated that they make various dishes and sell them in the market. He said that there is great demand for these dishes in the Lambasingi and Chinturu tribal areas. He also added that it takes enormous time to bring the bamboo shoots and sometimes they are pestered by the forest department officials if they carry them in bulk. Hence, they are compelled to bring them in small quantities only. He also stated that during the rainy season only they can carry out this business and soon after the rainy season they don't have any business dealing in this trade.
In a way, it is providing a mence of livelihood for them. They are 10 pieces for Rs. 50 in the market. They also wash the bamboo shoots and make a concoction and drink it to keep their health radiant. They said that bamboo shoots have high medical values. These contain calcium and help in digestion. Most of the Tribals love to eat it whenever it is found in the market.
In certain states , the selling of bamboo shoots is banned. In 2016, the Tripura government banned commercial purchase and sale of indigenous varieties of bamboo shoots to stop rampant destruction of the bamboo. Gokavaram , Forest Range Officer (FRO) V.Durga Kumar Babu told "The Hans India" that bamboo shoots grow from July to September and the forest department has prohibited the cutting of bamboo shoots during this particular period. However, as per their right the Tribals don't hesitate to cut the bamboo into slices for both culinary and marketing purposes. He added that, inspite of many restrictions, still the Tribals are consuming bamboo shoots despite their rights.