Asian Agri-History Foundation
Asian Agri-History

Asian Agri-History Foundation (Volume 9)

No. 1, January-March 2005
India's Bovine Burden: Dairy Cooperatives in a Tradition-ridden Society - Albert Ravenholt


The reforms of Thai Buddhism associated with the 20th century modernization of the country introduced a State-influenced form of Buddhism. In attempting to expunge superstitious elements, the moral lessons hitherto passed on via folk myths, and which were related to everyday practices including agriculture, were downgraded. The flexibility of individual monks to teach from local perspectives was also reduced. Fortunately, the reforms were slow to be observed in rural areas, and over time new forms of social responsibility related to agriculture emerged, such as development monks and related NGOs that work on community sustainable agriculture.

Agriculture and Religion in Thai Society - L Falvey


A brief survey of the glorious past of Indian science and technology, especially in the field of agriculture has been carried out to visualize the potential of India to carve out an equally glorious future. Pathways to ensure food security have been suggested.

Science in India with Special Reference to Agriculture P M Tamboli and Y L Nene
Historical Significance of Flowering and Use of Aechmanthera gossypina in Chaudans Valley of Kumaon, India - Anjula Pandey, K C Bhatt, and K S Negi
Traditional Agriculture in Tribal Area of Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh - A Case of Natural Conservation of Agro-Biodiversity - Dinesh Singh, S C Verma, and Vinod Kumar
Walnut: A Heritage Tree of Jammu and Kashmir - B L Puttoo
Criticism of Agricultural Research: Looking Ahead - Some Myth and Some Reality - J S Kanwar
Book Review: Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry in Ancient India - Y L Nene
Book Review: Makhana - Anil K Goel
Progress Report 2004: Asian Agri-History Foundation - Y L Nene
No. 2, April-June 2005


Domestication of rice (Oryza sativa; vrihi - Sanskrit; arise - Tamil) that occurred more than 8000 years ago led to a series of developments in rice culture over millennia,making it the most important food item for more than half of the world's population. Compared to the documented information on rice culture of China, information on rice culture in South Asia is scanty. We are able to find information on rice culture covering the last 5000 years in Vedas, Samhitas, Puranas, Buddhist and Jain literature, Kautilya's Arthasastra, Krishi-Parashara, Kashyapiyakrishisukti, Watt's "A dictionary of the economic products of India ", and a few others. Archaeological research also throws considerable light on rice culture. Empirical research on rice was carried out by farmers and intellectuals of many succeeding generations to innovate, develop, and adopt practices and technologies. Aspects such as (i) selection of phenotypically similar seeds suitable for a given region and for specific purposes; (ii) selection of soils and preparing them for growing broadcast, line-sown, or transplanted crop; (iii) innovative nursery management; (iv) organic topdressing; (v) weed management; (vi) water management at different stages of crop growth and at maturity; and (vii) harvesting, threshing, and storage were worked out and fine-tuned to the local needs. Extending over millennia, several thousand varieties were developed through selection. These included varieties based on differences in the size, shape, color, cooking quality, fragrance, taste, etc. Empirical research also led to claims of medical properties of rice types that need investigation. Processing of the harvested grains into food was worked out. This paper briefly highlights the knowledge of rice culture gained, especially in the last three millennia in South Asia and lists a few research areas that need serious attention.

Rice Research in South Asia through Ages - Y L Nene


The teachings of Buddhism offer incidental insight to morality in agriculture and effective environmental care. In Thailand, the expositions of two great Buddhist figures allude to agriculture through examples and allegories from the scriptures and through their own metaphors and explanations. Buddhadasa's teachings show a practical form of moral agriculture as part of an integrated understanding of nature while Payutto's work indicates the canonical underpinnings of this view. Taken together, a rare glimpse of the practical application of spiritual insights to agriculture in a professedly Buddhist environment is offered.

Two Thai Buddhists and Agriculture - L Falvey


The general notion is that insects cannot be food for human beings. Ruling out this idea some insects have been consumed by a particular group of people in the world and are quite popular due to their good taste and nutritional value. Some communities of Assam and northeastern hilly states of India also have been enjoying the uncommon taste of insects. Presently, edible insects are known to be marketed in some countries. This paper aims to record the information on edible insects and insect-eating habitat of the people of Assam and other states of Northeast India.

Insects as Human Food with Special Reference to Assam and Northeast India - H K Deva Nath, Robin Gogoi, and Gunjan Gogoi


Sayings prevalent in an area convey the wisdom of people. These are gems of wisdom in capsulated form. Haryana state of India is known for her soldiers (jawans) and farmers (kisans). About 60% of the working people are engaged and dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. These people learn the art and science of cultivation in the field through oral tradition of sayings and practically doing operations. Sayings/ maxims play an important role in their socioeconomic life. Naturally the oral literature is quite rich in agricultural and social sayings. This article is an attempt to present verses that depict the agricultural wisdom of simple folks of Haryana. There are sayings on all the facets of agriculture including farming, management, land and soils, choice of crops, their rotation, method and time of sowing, irrigation, manure, hoeing, weeding, harvest, importance and signs of rain, relation of wind with rain, and signs of famine. The folks may be simple and living from hand to mouth but possess a rich heritage of agricultural sayings and maxims.

Agriculture in Traditional Wisdom of Haryana - Uma Ahuja,Rashmi Thakrar, and S C Ahuja
Traditional Knowledge on Medicinal Properties of Some Plants inGolaghat District of Assam - R R Bhagowati and M Neog
Tulaipanji - An Indigenous Scented Rice Genotype of West Bengal - Dhiman Sen, Arun Bhatt, and Chandan Sourav Kar
The Significance of Albert Howard - M G Jackson
International Conference on Agricultural Heritage of Asia - Y L Nene
No. 3, July-September 2005


We came across a very interesting description of fishing for royal recreation in the 12th century compendium in Sanskrit titled Abhilashitarthachintamani or Manasollasa and authored by the Western Chalukya King Someshvardeva (1126–1138 AD). The text includes description of 35 kinds of marine and fresh water fishes, each with a distinct name, the feeds provided to few fishes, and the art of angling. The text also includes a brief description of cooking fish. We have made an attempt to identify Latin names of the fishes from the names given by Someshvardeva. Fishes described in the text include sharks, a sawfish, a triggerfish, garfishes, carps, croakers, a spiny eel, catfishes, barbels, murrels, a ray fish, gobies, and snakeheads. Only half a dozen of these were nurtured for the royal game of angling. It is evident that considerable knowledge of fishes was gathered almost 900 years ago, but was ignored in subsequent centuries.

On Fish in Manasollasa (c. 1131 AD) - Nalini Sadhale and Y L Nene


Agricultural community development has taken many approaches, one of which in countries such as Thailand has assumed a religious mantle in the form of Engaged Buddhism. Leaders of this form of development have sought to stimulate activities based around a central spiritual objective, which in many cases has been subverted to routine agricultural development goals. The canonical justification for Engaged Buddhism and, in the cases described for a major advocate in Thailand, are open to alternative cosideration. This can suggest that the impact of such development is little different from that of mainstream community development activities, particularly when the Western influence in Engaged Buddhist is noted. Nevertheless, the spirtual intent of some practitioners warrants consideration in terms of overall benefits not limited by conventional development criteria.

Engaged Buddhism and Agriculture - L Falvey


Kalanamak is one of the finest quality scented rices of India. It derives its name from black husk (kala = black; the suffix 'namak' means salt). This variety is in cultivation since the Buddhist period (600 BC). It was quite popular in Himalayan Tarai of eastern Uttar Pradesh, India; however, acreage under this variety declined sharply, forcing it to near extinction, due to panicle blast epidemics during 1998 and 1999, tall stature causing lodging, long duration, and low yield and grain quality. During this study natural biodiversity in Kalanamak was characterized and utilized to improve this historical variety and save it from being extinct. Ten germplasm lines were resistant to panicle blast. Similarly several germplasm lines performed well in Usar (saline-sodic) soil of pH 9.0 to 9.5. These selections offer great promise for cultivation in Usar soil, A traditional method of Kalanamak cultivation Kalam, Which is at the verge of extinction, was also evaluated.

Rediscovering Scented Rice Cultivar Kalanamak - U S Singh, Neelam Singh,H N Singh, O P Singh, and R K Singh


The Harela festival, roughly meaning "Green" festival is celebrated widely in the Indian state of Uttaranchal, India on the first day of Shravan (July-August). It is celebrated to symbolize harmony between man and nature, as also to pray for a successful harvest of the rainy season (June-September) crops. This paper describes the celebration of the festival and also the beliefs associated with it.

Harela: The Farm Festival of Uttaranchal - D Bhatt and J C Bhatt


Eco-friendly materials are abundantly available in India and are being used by local people for various purposes to meet their day-to-day needs. This holds true for the farming community who have to store grain either as seed or for domestic consumption. Hence, the farming communities in many states use the eco-friendly materials for fabricating structures and containers for storing grains at domestic level. The local wisdom and innovative skill dictates the choice of materials, the procedure of fabrication as per the placement of the structure/container, the quantity of grain to be stored, and the shape of the structure/container according to the type of material used. The local wisdom also directs the precautionary measures to be taken for safe storage of grain, protection against grain loss and damage, and the maintanance of structure/container to increase its life span. This paper discusses the eco-friendly materials that are being used in nine states covered under a coordinated research project for restoration of pride in indigenous storage structures and containers.

Eco-friendly Grain Storage Structures in India - Tej Verma, Sumita Roy, and A Mary Swarnalatha


The Raika pastoralists of Rajasthan, India possess excellent traditional knowledge of breeding camels as well as treating the ailments. this knowledge is put in practice even today, in addition to occasional assistance from the qualified veterinary doctors. We gathered information on the ethnoveterinary practices from Raika pastoralists in the Bikaner district of Rajasthan. The information presented and discussed in this paper.

Ethnoveterinary Practices of Raika Pastoralists for Camel Health Management in Bikaner District of Rajasthan - Devi Singh Rajput, Hema Tripathi, and S K Bhanja
Traditional Veterinary Medicinal Plants of Bhilangana Valley of Tehari District, Uttaranchal Himalaya - Lalit Tiwari and P C Pande
The Pioneer of Sapota Cultivation in India: The Lake Kawasji Palanji Patel - Mohan Bar
No. 4, October-December 2005


The tropical monsoon rhythm for over centuries obviously occasioned the development of water works which facilitated wet rice cultivation in pre-modern Southeast Asia. The small-scale water works, purely an outcome of local initiative which survived for many centuries and outlived the state, were developed in the dry zone of Irrawaddy valley in the rain-shadow region of Menam Basin and on the terraced hill sites of Champa as well as in some lowland areas and volcanic uplands of insular realm. On the contrary, the elaborated and large-scale irrigation and water control system was forged by the well organized society under the aegis of the state, as was accomplished by the Khmers in the lower Mekong valley and the Vietnamese in the Red river delta. The ingeniously built integrated canal system in Satingra peninsula (southern-most Thailand) also deserves appreciation. All these water schemes of great antiquity, though primitive and crude, have testified to their efficacy of serving the demands of the peasantry and the state. These community-based water works, unlike the major irrigation schemes, need to be maintained by all the Southeast Asian countries.

The Salutary Influence of Irrigation on Human Settlement, Economy, and Political Power in Pre-modern Southeast Asia - Y Yagama Reddy


Farmers’ wisdom of soil taxonomy and fertility management dynamics is based on trial and error, problem solving, and group approach to manage the natural resources. The farmers’ knowledge of defining the soil taxonomy and fertility management practices is compatible to their adaptive skills and rich source of location-specific ecological information. This study describes wisdom of farmers and the criteria they developed for soil classification and fertility management. A study was conducted in the purposively selected villages of Jahanganj block of Azamgarh district in eastern Uttar Pradesh, India. The data pertaining to the study were collected by using focus group discussions, agroecosystem analysis, resource flow maps, and unstructured interactions with the farmers and inference has been drawn with the help of non-parametric statistics. Farmers have developed the set of local wisdom of soil classification on account of their long experience, perception of different factors and constraints associated with soils. Farmers see topography, soil depth, texture, and compactness, fertilizer response, crop yield, soil productivity, and drainage as broad indicators to classify the soil and use of productivity as the principle criterion to distinguish the soil type. While defining soil fertility, farmers consider variability in the indicators like soil color, workability, degree of erosion, range of crops, capacity to respond to organic manures and fertilizers, cost of cultivation, and overall profit. Socioeconomic factors associated with soil fertility affect the crop selection and sustainability of soil fertility level.

Fertility Management Dynamics of Soil : Exploration of Farmer's Hidden Wisdom - Ranjay K Singh and Pavan Kumar Singh


Bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) is a cucurbitaceous vegetable for which India is the secondary center of diversity and endowed with rich variability especially in the fruit characters. The Regional Station of the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), located at Hyderabad, India has conducted several expeditions in the Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh and collected the available diversity in the bottle gourd germplasm including its cultivated and wild forms. This paper documents the available fruit diversity in the bottle gourd germplasm collected from the tribal communities, viz., Koyas, Gutti Koyas, Lambadas, and other primitive tribal groups living in the Telangana region. The collected germplasm (54 accessions) showed immense variation in the qualitative characters of fruit such as shape, luster, blossom- end, ridges, etc. Wide range of variability was also recorded in the quantitative traits for several fruit and seed characters, viz., fruit length (13.3–83.9 cm), fruit width (7.9–34.4 cm), fruit circumference (20.5–98.0 cm), seed length (11.3–21.0 mm), seed width (5.8–9.2 mm), seed thickness (2.5–3.7 mm), and 100-seed mass (7.6–31.8 g). Ethnobotanical information pertaining to the utilization of bottle gourd by different tribal groups is also presented.

Morphological Diversity for Fruit Characters in Bottle Gourd Germplasm from Tribal Pockets of Telangana Region of Andhra Pradesh, India - N. Sivaraj and S R Pandravada
Herbal Treatment of Elephant Ailments in Ancient Assam - R Roychoudhury and R N Goswami
Rice Products of Manipur - M S Singh, E Luikham, O N K Singh, and N B Singh
INDSAFARI – An Organic Pesticide for Tea - Valmiki Sreenivasa Ayangarya
Useful Plants of India: Dyes – Indigo and Madder - Colonel Heber Drury
ASIAN Agri-History

The opinions expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily of the Asian Agri-History Foundation (AAHF). The designations employed and the presentation of the material in this journal do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of AAHF concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city, or area...

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Asian Agri-History Foundation (AAHF)
College of Agriculture
GB Pant University of Agriculture and Technology, Pantnagar-263145
U S Nagar, Uttarakhand, INDIA

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