A boon for the landless

boonAgriculture has largely been subsistence type in the remote villages of Koraput which is one of the most backward districts of the state. The condition of landless households is even worse as they work as agriculture labourers. In such a scenario, making agriculture remunerative and also addressing the nutritional requirements of the households is a challenge. Daimati Durua, a resident of Kenduguda village of Kerimity Gram Panchayat of Kundura Block, Koraput district took up the cultivation of elephant foot yam during March 2015. This was being cultivated by her for the first time. She was really excited to take this up since it did not require land for cultivation and the investment cost was also very low. Only thing she needed was a gunny bag, soil, sand, organic manure and two hundred gram of seed amounting to forty rupees  worth of investment excluding labour cost which was contributed by her. She was guided by CYSD team members working in that area regarding the methodology to be followed. Yam cultivation in gunny bag has several advantages vis-à-vis it’s cultivation in land. The growth is better in gunny bag since it gets loose and free space. The chances of it getting rotten or spoilt due to rain are less since the water gets drained out easily. It is portable and can be lifted and kept at a suitable place if required. It gets the support from big trees over which it grows and there is no need to put extra support. The input required is less and nourishes the plant without getting diffused in a larger area as in the case of land. As a result of this innovative practice, Daimati Durua could harvest eight to fifteen kilograms of the tuber from each bag within a span of eight months valued at rupees forty per kilogram. She had taken up cultivation in four gunny bags. She plans to sell the yam and keep partly for consumption. In the pilot phase, seven women from three producer groups belonging to three villages of Kerimity gram panchayat had taken up the cultivation of elephant foot yam in ten gunny bags. The ripple effect of this initiative is that a total of two hundred and thirty women have shown interest to go for the cultivation of elephant foot yam in ten gunny bags each. As far as Daimati is concerned, she is eager to do it once again in the next season and at a larger scale. The initiative holds lot of hopes for the tribal women farmers, particularly those who are landless. It paves the way for their economic empowerment together with meeting their dietary requirements.

Some facts on Elephant Foot Yam……

The elephant yam can be described as an edible tuber, which is one of the most widely consumed food crops, mainly in the tropical regions. This tuber is called elephant yam because the plant that it is derived from is quite huge and resembles the foot of an elephant to a great extent. Therefore, some of the other synonyms for the elephant yam are elephant foot yam, sweet yam and elephant bread. It is also sometimes referred to as famine food since it is consumed during the scarcity of different staple crops. The highest consumption of the elephant yam is in Africa, followed by some Asian countries such as India. Although in the United States sweet potatoes are often mistaken for the elephant yam, the two are actually quite different, since they belong to two completely different plant families.

Medicinal VALUES OF ELEPHANT FOOT YAM

It has been proved that elephant foot yam has many medical benefits as its root is highly stomachic, restorative, carminative and tonic.

  • The cooling effect of yam can be a cure for Hypertension.
  • Yam is dried and often used as a treatment for piles and dysentery..
  • Yam helps to reduce cholesterol levels in blood. So it can be used as slimming food because it lowers cholesterol levels and promotes weight loss and also has a high concentration of key minerals.
  • Yam can even act as an anticoagulant.
  • Elephant foot yam can be safely consumed by diabetic people.
  • Elephant foot yam helps to maintain the hormonal balance by increasing the estrogen level in women. It can relieve the women from pre-menstrual syndrome as well.
  • Hemorrhoids patients are also prescribed to have elephant yam.
  • Powerful antioxidant Vitamin C is present which delays aging.
  • It is also provided as a medicine for treatment to patients suffering from acute rheumatism.
  • Irregular bowel movements and constipation can also be cured by consuming yam.
  • Yam reduces muscle spasms.
  • The sap from the stem is fermented and used to treat diarrhea and dysentery.
  • The inside of the stem is cut and eaten raw as an antidote for snakebites.

 NUTRITIONAL  PROFILE OF ELEPHANT FOOT YAM

Elephant foot yam has a rich nutritional profile.

  • It provides energy about 330KJ/100g (approximately).
  • Potassium, Phosphorous and Magnesium are the key minerals found in elephant yam. It also contains trace minerals like zinc, copper and selenium.
  • It also contains Calcium. 50-56mg/100g of its contents is Calcium.
  • Its 18-24% is carbohydrate content.
  • About 0.8% is fiber.
  • Its water content is about 72-79%
  • 7-5.0% of its content is protein.
  • It has omega-3 fatty acids which are known to increase the good cholesterol levels in the blood.
  • Diosgenin, a molecular hormone which has potential anticancer effects, is found in yam.
  • Elephant foot yam is high on vitamin B6 content.
  • It also contains Vitamin C and Vitamin A.

From its wide medicinal benefits and nutritional profile, it can be concluded that elephant yam is very potent source of nutrition. So its consumption is beneficial to health. It can also be consumed by people looking for weight reduction as it is low on fat content (0.2-0.4%). Yam is a healthy low fat food.

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