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Bio-resource utilization for food and medicine: a case study of a primitive tribal group of Jharkhand, India

Dipankar Chatterjee
Rudrajit Sarkar


This paper is an endeavour to define and describe the diversity contained in circumstances surrounding the Sauria Paharia food and medicine system and the wealth of knowledge of their local environment. Sauria Paharia is one of the nine primitive tribal groups of Jharkhand. This hill tribe still practice shifting cultivation and have a definite system of knowledge transmission pattern of resource utilization over the generations. The present research is an outcome of an in-depth study carried out in a purposively selected uni-ethnic village of Pakur district of Jharkhand. The village is inhabited by only 22 household of Sauria Paharia comprising of 108 souls. Despite their insignificant numerical strength, the community has evolved a very comprehensive system of food management that not only help in sustaining their nutritional requirements but also ensure their medicinal necessities. The data were mainly collected with the help of structured schedule followed by open ended interview in a group and individually as well. Participant observation becomes handy during trail walk through the forest accompanied by few ‘expert’ villagers in identifying critical resources that are used by the villagers during the distress period like drought or during crop failure. With regard to the medicinal plant knowledge key informant interview was conducted to understand and document the folk medicine system. Local medicine-man (Guru), who mainly prepare medicine from different parts of plants, administers the treatment in their traditional way was interviewed. The data on dietary intake pattern, food availability, pattern of harvest, key food preparation have been categorized and described in the paper. Finally the article argues the importance of sustaining the knowledge of such small scale community to ensure the conservation of critical resources for the benefit of mankind.

Keywords: Food system, Indigenous Knowledge, Critical resource conservation, Sauria Paharia, Jharkhand

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1737-8176
print ISSN: 1737-7374