To promote forest-grown vegetables and boost the income of tribals, the Tripura Forest Department organized a forest food festival in Agartala on Sunday.
The festival was held at Oxygen Park, located on the fringes of Agartala. The event's objective was to bring forest-grown vegetables to the mainstream market so that the forest dwellers could fetch higher prices from the markets.
The Joint Forest Management Committees prepared several dishes from the forest food products like yams, leaves, and different kinds of potatoes during the exhibition.
Speaking on occasion, Tripura Forest Minister Narendra Chandra Debbarma said, "Different kinds of forest foods are being exhibited here. The forest food products are equally popular in both tribal and non-tribal communities of the state. The main idea is to give the forest food products and much-needed exposure to the urban population. It is needless to say that no pesticides and insecticides are used in growing these food items, and all these vegetables are completely organic in nature."
Debbarma also spoke on the aspect of livelihood generation and said, "Along the National Highway 8, a good number of shops have been opened where these food items are easily available. It is important to draw the attention of the people towards these food products so that people try indigenous dishes more and more."
Referring to the 2010 survey conducted in 57 major markets of Tripura, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) DK Sharma said more than 300 metric tons of forest vegetables are sold across the state, and the maximum of them are sold at Lake Chowmuhani Bazar Agartala. Apart from that, the forest dwellers self-consumed another 2,200 metric tons of such food items.
"So the annual harvest of these naturally grown food products stand somewhere between 2,500 metric ton to 3,000 metric ton in the rainy season that lasts for 150 to 200 days in the state. In winters, the collection is lesser," Sharma said.
He reiterated that the forest department wants to woo investment in this sector so that the forest dwellers continue to harvest these crops sustainably and make proper utilization.
"We see the tribal people of the state have better health. This is simply because of the good food they consume, and the forest department is eager to promote these foods with high nutritive values in the mainstream markets," said the PCCF.