Rediscovering our roots

Hello everyone! I am Sumeet and I run Spudnik Farms. I am new to the Grove and am enjoying reading about your wonderful work and following engaging discussions in this community. Thought it was time to switch on the tube(r)light and introduce you to our “spudtacular” work. :blush:

While we sit in our concrete jungles and talk about sustainability, climate resilience and “smart” agriculture we are rapidly losing touch with our biodiversity and ways to conserve it. This “diversity drought” is the result of a complicated food system that manages to feed us, but at an enormous social, economic, and environmental cost – a system which make us oblivious to the astounding varieties of indigenous produce and unaware of who grows our food. This same system has pushed traditional forest dwelling communities (which have been preserving indigenous crop varieties) to the margins and traps them in a vicious cycle of dependency and deprivation. It is ironic that communities which have historically contributed little to climate change (and yet have a significant role to play in our food future), should bear the brunt of adverse climate events and struggle with poverty. Climate change solutions need to create economic and livelihood stability for marginalised farming communities to ensure their active and continued participation.

It is with these thoughts that Spudnik Farms started working with the Kunbis of the Western Ghats. It has been a humbling and eye-opening experience (to say the least) with the community introducing us to many unique tuber crop varieties grown in the region such as Mudali (from the Colocasia family) and Kone (from the Yam family). These crops have been a ubiquitous component of the culture and dietary habits of the Kunbis for centuries. They have considerable nutritive value, low input requirements, lesser incidence of pests/disease and provide sustained yields despite adverse climate events. Further, the Kunbis possess specific local knowledge and expertise to cultivate and utilise them. Not just the Kunbis- tuber crops serve as a critical source of food, nutrition and cash income for many of the developing world’s farmers and food‑insecure people (including Africa, Latin America and South-East Asia).

Sadly, despite India being one of the top 5 producers of tuber crops in the world, there is limited awareness of indigenous tuber crops outside their local geographies and these crops remain severely underutilised. Further, as modern life shapes the identities of younger generations amongst farming communities, they are losing pride in their food heritage and the dividend it potentially offers.

Spudnik Farms is trying to address this challenge by bringing root and tuber vegetables into the mainstream while creating livelihood opportunities through value addition using these crops. We help farmers build production capacity, develop processing capabilities and market products made from indigenous tuber crops. Our aim is to creating flourishing farming systems that tackle challenges of nutrition, environmental wellbeing & poverty through indigenous tuber crops.

We can’t do this alone and are forming strategic alliances with community groups, research institutes and organisations. I am hoping to use this platform to build awareness about tuber crops, hear your thoughts, explore partnerships (and make terrible puns about roots & tubers) – literally connecting through our roots! :blush:

You can also follow us on Instagram and LinkedIn for updates on our work.