KARNATAKA’S SOLIGAS TRIBES (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 - Env & Eco)

News-CRUX-10     25th July 2023        
Samadhaan

Context: In Karnataka’s Chamarajanagara district, where silver cockscomb is referred to as anne soppu, farmers of the Soliga tribe say controlling the weed can cost up to Rs 2,000 per acre (0.4 hectare) per year. 

  • Yet they do not consider silver cockscomb a weed.
  • If left unchecked, it can spread quickly and suppress the growth of other crops, affecting their yield. 
  • It also attracts insects, caterpillars, worms and moths that can harm crops.

Key Points

  • For the Soligas, known for their traditional knowledge of ecology, silver cockscomb is a nutritious leafy green vegetable that grows well even on fallow land and in drought-like conditions.
  • Also known as lagos spinach, the weed belongs to the Amaranthaceae family, which includes economically important plants like spinach (Spinacia oleracea), beetroot and quinoa. 
  • The plant is known as Celosia argentea in scientific lexicon, kurdu in Marathi and pannai keerai in Tamil.
  • Silver cockscomb is a short-lived 50-60 cm-tall plant that bears simple, spirally arranged leaves around the stem with pinkish or silky white flowers. 
  • Since it grows widely on farmlands across the country, most farmers use the plant as fodder. But like the Soliga tribe, some communities also consume it as a leafy vegetable.
  • Soliga tribe of Karnataka uses silver cockscomb to make side dishes like palya for rotis, rice or ragi balls.
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