Commerce is the forward linkage of the garden’s C4 framework for sustainable genetic resource management. The traditional knowledge and the local bio-resources of the indigenous community and their skill have taken the lead to the commercialization to enhance the economic status of the community and support the custodian farmers for their conservation effort. It advocates the local community to safeguard and sustainably utilize the Culinary, Curative and Crop-diversity. ‘A garden to market’ system will be commenced to encourage the livelihood of the society and sustainability. It will focus on the herbal products, value addition to the wild crop products; promote forest produces chiefly the non wood forest produces (NWFPs), high quality shade coffee with unique flavour to brew unlike coffee grown in sun, the nutrition rich traditional crop varieties and the green products. The commerce ultimately upholds the biodiversity conservation, cultivation and consumption and it represents the linkage that can augment rest of the cyclic framework to move forward.
Wayanad district a hilly terrain on the southern Western Ghats is historically known for production of high quality coffee, in integration with abundant tree stocks and biodiversity. The district is known for rich floral and faunal diversity and ethnic cultures. The farms, especially the small farms are integrated with cultivation of rice, spices, ginger areca nut and turmeric, fruits and vegetables. But the growing trend amongst the planters is on enhancing the crop production by reducing the shade and intercropping. Revival of shade coffee system with appropriate steps in marketing as a speciality product can improve the farm income.
The tribal communities of Wayanad district portrait the ethnic diversity and cultural heritage of the region. A team of MSSRF conducted a study and documented on Ethno botanical significance of the wild edible plants of the region used by tribal communities. The study revealed that 165 edibles used by Kattunaikka, Paniya and Kuruma tribes. The knowledge of Paniya community is immense with 136 taxa, Kattunaikkas with 97 taxa and Kurumas with 42 taxa of wild edible plants. Kattunaikka has knowledge on 18 taxa of Dioscorea, Kuruma has 6 taxa characterized with edibility, taste, colour, size, direction of growth, fiber content, cooking properties and pattern of underground proliferation. It is the major source of food for forest-dwelling communities. They consider dioscorea spp. is rich in starch, pulp and fibre. A few varieties used are D. hamiltonii (Vennikalasu), D. belophylla (Hehkkukalasu), D. oppositifolia (Kavalakalasu) are distributed in interior evergreen and moist deciduous forests and D. wightii (Erakalasu) in rocky grasslands. D. pentaphylla (Noorakalasu, Nallanoora), D. wallichii (Narakalasu), D. bulbifera (Hendiridaekalasu) are found in wayside-bushes and D. pubera (Boojikavalakalasu) in marshy areas.
The study conducted in the district by MSSRF states that the wild and weedy greens form the most regularly used food supplement among the three major tribal groups such as Paniya, Kuruma and Kattunaika. Paniya community provide much preference to leafy greens in their diet. Tribes utilize 84 plant species of wild edible green among which Paniya community uses about 71 species followed by Kattunaikka with 35 species and Kuruma with 21 species of leafy greens. Among the frequently eaten greens are the species like Alternanthera sessilis (Ponnamkkanni), Amaranthus spinosus (Mullencheera), Amaranthus viridis (Kuppacheera) and Solanum nigrum (Mudungachappu)
It is estimated that 53 fruits and 9 seeds, 33 are trees found in the forests and hills are consumed by major tribal groups in the district. Paniyas are the largest consumers of wild fruits comprise 50 species, Kattunaikka consumes 37 species and Kuruma consumes 15 species largely collected from forest. A few fruits and seeds collected and consumed by tribes are Buchanania lanzan, Diospyros melanoxylon, Ficus racemosa, Flacourtia montana, Madhuca longifolia, Schleichera oleosa, Semecarpus anacardium, Emblica officinalis and Garcinia gummi-gutta. Emblica officinalis and Garcinia gummi-gutta have tremendous medicinal and commercial significance. Wild mango, Jack and bamboo seeds have high nutritional and market potential.
Wayand being the leading ‘wild honey’ producing region of the state gives hope for ensuring the livelihood of the marginal tribal communities in the district. Four types of wild honeybees commonly found in the district are puttuthen (Asiatic honey bee, Apis cerana), kolthen or kombuthen (Dwarf honey bee, Api florea), malanthen (Gaint honey bee, Apis dorsata), and cheruthen (Trigona iridipensis or sting-less bee). The lab analysis reveals that the quality of the wild honey obtained from Wayanad is superior. The Kattunaika tribes in the district are the master honey hunters make living by collecting wild honey and other forest produces especially NWPS. MSSBG can support the eco development ventures for ensuring the outreach and marketing these high quality wild products. Collaborative project of MSSRF and DST ensure the nutrition livelihood programme and the sustainability of the community associated with MSSRF. The commercialization of the wild produces will ensure the economic sustainability and enhance the quality of living of the community.