ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

‘Millets in the Milieu’: Mapping socio-cultural change amidst surging cash crop farming of millets and other crops among tribals of Odisha, India.


Mohanty Bijayini - Utkal University, Anthropology, Bhubaneswar, India
Kumar Ashutosh - University of Groningen, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, Groningen, The Netherlands
Bhattacharyya Shilanjani - University of Frankfurt, Frankfurt Germany


07 – Towards Collaborative Research on Cereal Cultures in South Asia


 This paper analyzes the changing meaning of millets caused by burgeoning cash crop farming practices in three Adivasi villages of South Odisha, specifically of the Saora, Bodo Paroja and Didayi tribal communities. We will explore the growth of food and non-food cash crops like cashew, cotton, marijuana, eucalyptus & niger in the context of their relationship with changes in traditional forms of production, re-distribution and consumption of millets. We will examine how the presence of cash crop cultivation in tribal areas of traditional millet farming implicates everyday socio-cultural relations among tribal communities, especially in relation to the recent transformation of millets as cash crops. We will trace how these communities share and transact land, labor, resources and market access in the presence of commercial farming alongside the existence of traditional agriculture and their simultaneous inflection by state regulations and policies. We will also analyze the aspects of autonomy of agricultural practices and custody of seeds, especially millets, in the context of increasing commercialization of agriculture. Thus, using ethnographic fieldwork data and case studies, we will attempt to critically reflect & theorize upon these evolving crop assemblages, focusing on millets, while interrogating diverse relationships of competition, cooperation and symbiosis.