Urban dwellers to get taste of wild plants

Pranita Roy
Thursday, 23 August 2018

Three botanists from the city will be bringing wild edible plants of tribal areas in Maharashtra to urban dwellers. 

Pune: Three botanists from the city will be bringing wild edible plants of tribal areas in Maharashtra to urban dwellers. 

Vinaya Ghate, Senior Scientist and Researcher from Agharkar Institute, Pune, Prabha Bhogaonkar, retired professor and ex-director of Government Vidarbha Institute of Science and Humanities, Amravati and Prachi Kshirsagar, Professor at Botany Department of Modern College of Arts, Science and Commerce have been working closely with 15 tribal women to introduce the wild edible plants to urban population. 

They will be organising a two-day ‘Ran Bhaji Mahostav 2018’ in collaboration with Modern College of Arts, Science and Commerce, Ganeshkhind from September 8 to 9. During this festival, tribal women from Kukadeshwar of Junnar taluka in Pune district will brief the visitors about species of wild edible plants and also cook at least 15 commonly available wild vegetables in that area.

“The purpose of initiating such a festival in the city is to create awareness about the wild edible plants and also to regain respect for traditional food which has been existing for decades in the country,” said Bhogaonkar.
“In the year 1994, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change declared 3,900 species of wild edible plants were recorded in a survey. Today, Gadchiroli in Maharashtra alone has 123 species of edible plants,” said Bhogaonkar. 

Why people don’t consume it anymore
Wild edible plants are studied under ethnobotany. This subject is widely researched upon. Bhogaonkar said civilians have been consuming wild vegetables for ages, however over the years the consumption has reduced due to unavailability and change in lifestyle.

“The main reason for consumption of wild plants is availability. For example, earlier even Pune was covered with dense forest and hence, wild edible plants were available easily. Due to degradation of forest lands the access to these plants and vegetables has decreased. Secondly, lifestyle of urban population has changed and although the rural population has some knowledge of wild vegetables and fruits, city people lack the awareness,” said Bhogaonkar.

“Moreover, wild vegetables, plants and fruits are limited as they are not cultivated. They grow by themselves. Therefore, it is hard to provide adequate supply to the demand,” she said.

Uses of wild edible plants
These wild edible plants have high nutritional values and are rich in providing vitamins, minerals and bioactive compounds. “Apart from carbohydrates, protein, fats, these plants provide a large amount of vitamins. For example, 100 gm of orange pulp provides 57 mg vitamin C, whereas 100 gm of wild bear fruit provides 1,000 mg vitamin C,” said Bhogaonkar.

“Similarly, we consume drumsticks, but the leaves of drumsticks contain a large amount of vitamin A, which is not available easily and not consumed widely by people,” added Bhogaonkar. Those interested in participating in the festival can register between August 28 and 31 at the college.

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