2023 Local Food Systems Workshop / புதுச்சேரி உணவுப் பழக்கம்

March 6 to March 11, 2023

A synergy between science and society: The case of millets

The "Local Food System" (LFS) Workshop will provide a platform to encourage and facilitate dialogue and collaboration between researchers and different groups of stakeholders engaged in the localization of food systems (from food production to consumption, as well as processing, marketing, and distributing) in the bioregion of Puducherry, Auroville, and the surrounding districts of Tamil. It focuses more particularly on the social, economic, political, and cultural dimensions of food and agriculture for various stakeholders and explores the diverse ways in which citizens are reclaiming and reasserting democratic control over their food, consequently contributing to transforming the food system towards healthier diets, more ecological sustainability, more climate resilience, and social justice and equity. This workshop has been organized every year on the French Institute of Pondicherry initiative since 2018 in collaboration with several stakeholders.

This year, the fifth edition of the Local Food System workshop will emphasize existing research projects at the IFP (PATAMIL project, funded by the Region Centre-Val de Loire on Food Justice and Democracy) and stakeholders' initiatives on sustainable agriculture innovations and food systems' localization, in particular, the revival of millet cultivation and consumption in alignment with the International Year of Millets (IYM 2023) declared by the United Nations General Assembly. Almost forgotten over the last decades, millets are now increasingly recognized as the future of food and agriculture, considering their nutritional benefits and their resistance to drought. More generally, the program will focus on food security, food diversity, and food democracy in times of global crises such as climate change, food crisis, nutrition deficiency, and pandemics.

The six-day event will take place in two regions: Jawadhu Hills and Puducherry, comprising different activities:

1) In Jawadhu Hills, initiatives by DHAN foundation, TVS Srinivasan Services Trust Jawadhu Hills, local panchayats, enterprises, and citizens on millet consumption, food security, and welfare of farmers. The program will include discussion with academicians and practitioners and site visits to millet farming as well as honey collection, millet processors, millet food exhibition in the street and participatory approach with the farmers. 2) In Pondicherry and its bioregion, the event will include sessions in different villages with Farmers Producers Organizations (FPOs) and Women Self Help Groups (SHGs) involved in food enterprises, millet cooking class, photo exhibition, a documentary screening, and a debate on food security and food sovereignty.

"உள்ளூர் உணவு பழக்க வழக்கம்" என்ற நிகழ்ச்சி மூலம் ஆராய்ச்சியாளர்கள், விவசாயிகள் மற்றும் பயன்படுத்துபவர்கள் ஆகியவர்களிடம் உள்ள அனுபவங்களள பகிர்ந்து ககாள்வதாகும். இந்நிகழ்ச்சி புதுச்சசரி மற்றும் தமிழ்நாட்டில் சில மாவட்டங்களில் நடக்கிறது. உணவு கபாருட்களள விளளவித்தல் மற்றும் அதன் மூலம் இயற்ளக சார்ந்த சுற்றுச் சூழளல சமம்படுத்துதல் ஆகியளவ இந்நிகழ்ச்சியின் சநாக்கமாகும். 2018 ஆம் ஆண்டு கதாடங்கி ஒவ்கவாரு ஆண்டும் நடத்தப்படும் இந்நிகழ்ச்சியானது இந்த ஆண்டு சிறு தானிய உற்பத்தி மற்றும் பயன்பாட்ளட ளமயமாக எடுத்துக்ககாள்ளப்பட்டுள்ளது. 2023 ஆம் ஆண்டு உலக சிறுதானிய ஆண்டாக ஐக்கிய நாடுகள் சளப அறிவித்திருப்பது இந்நிகழ்ச்சிக்கு வலுவூட்டுவதாகவும் அளமகிறது. மார்ச் 6 ஆம் சததி 2023 ஆம் ஆண்டு கதாடங்கும் இந்த ஆறு நாள் நிகழ்ச்சி ஜவ்வாது மளல மற்றும் புதுச்சசரியில் நடத்தப்படுகிறது. கருத்தரங்கம், சிறுதானிய உணவு பயன்களள விவரித்தல், சதன் சசகரிப்பு மற்றும் இயற்ளக விவசாய சங்கங்களின் கசயல்பாடுகள் ஆகியளவகள் இக்கருத்தரங்கில் நளடகபறும்.


Alliance Française, Puducherry

Consulat Général de France, Puducherry

French Institute of Pondicherry (Social Sciences, Ecology and Photo Archives Departments)

Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Puducherry

DHAN Foundation - Jawadhu Hills and Puducherry

INDP, Puducherry

Living lab Towards Climate Smart and Nutrition Sensitive Food Systems (INRAE-BAIF)

NABARD, Puducherry

Puducherry Natural and Organic Farmers Local Food, Culture and Society, Puducherry

Pondicherry University

Région Centre-Val-de-Loire, France

SITA Cultural Center, Puducherry

TVS Srinivasan Services Trust, Jawadhu Hills

Department of Anthropology, University of Madras

PROGRAM : 6th March (Monday) to 11th March, 2023 (Saturday)

This year the LFS workshop will be organised in the bioregion of Pondicherry and Jawadhu Hills.

1) 6th March 2023, Monday - INTRODUCTION OF THE LFS WORKSHOP

In the Jawadhu Hills, Tiruvannamalai district, the Malalayali and other inhabitants grow predominantly rainfed crops, in particular millets, with paddy in low lands and harvesting of wild honey. Seasonal or permanent migration is necessary for making both ends meet in many households. In addition to their nutritional quality and their importance in traditional diet, the urban demand for these crops has generated a shift from a food crop to a cash crop. Different civil action groups and National tribal welfare programs are supporting economic changes in the region: in particular the DHAN Foundation has the challenging objective of developing millet-based trade and added-value products while trying to maintain these cereals as a local staple food.

  • 8.00 am: Departure from Pondicherry, Venue: DHAN office, Jamunamarathur, Javadhu Hills
  • 2.00-2.10 pm: Introduction and launching of the 2023 LFS (Delphine Thivet, Venkatasubramanian G., Social Sciences Department, IFP)
  • 2.10-3.30 pm: Round-table (Coord. Sumathi Rajesh, Department of Anthropology, University of Madras): Presentations of projects conducted in the Jawadhu Hills with the Malayali tribal people. Dhan Foundation, TVS Srinivasan Services Trust will present their initiatives on food, nutrition and agriculture
  • 3.30-4.30 pm: Meeting with local Panchayat, Tribal Welfare Department Horticulture department representative and Indian Bank officials.
  • 4.30 pm: Tea break.
  • 5:30-6:30 pm: Collective pre-visit preparation (definition of goals and expectation of the participants, sharing research questions, planning of activities and organisation of the data collection).


Venue: Veerapanur and Pudupattu villages, Jawadhu Hills

  • 9.00 am-1 pm: Field visit on millets cultivation and processing (DHAN foundation).

The field visit will focus on the revival of millets in the region. It aims at understanding the link between millets, culture, shifting cultivation, biodiversity, and the challenges of processing grain.

  • 3.00-4.30 pm: A field discussion, cooking and tasting together traditional millet snack recipes, Jamunamarathur (Coord: ManjuBhargavi, Department of Anthropology, University of Madras and Jayapal CDO, TVS Srinivasa Service Trust)

In Jamunamarathur, a group of women will display their traditional millet food snacks using Ragi (finger millet)/Kambu (pearl millet)/Thinai (fox tail millet)/Kuthiraivali (horse tail millet) and Varagu (kodo millet) and locally available keerai varieties. They will share their special recipes, preparation methods, and their diet cum food preferences with its health benefits. By the end of the session the participants will get a glimpse of in-depth indigenous knowledge of locally available millets and keerai food items and their lifestyle.

  • 4.30-6.00 pm: Cultural Program by children, Jamunamarathur (Coord: DHAN Foundation).


Venue: Thoppur, Thombareddy, Ettimarathur villages, Jawadhu Hills

  • 9.00-9.30 am: Presentation on biodiversity, honey bees and pollination in South India (Lazar J., Ecology Department, IFP) and presentation of the booklet Putuccēri Uyirccūḻal Pakutiyil Nāṭṭuttēṉīkkaḷum Makarantac Cērkkaiyum [Native Bees and Pollination in the Puducherry Bioregion. Tamil version]

Link: https://www.ifpindia.org/bookstore/ss1_tam/

  • 9.30-1.00 pm: Field visit on honey collection (DHAN Foundation).

The participants will interact with the forest wild honey collection team.

  • 3.00-3.30 pm: Visit of the Honeybee Park (Horticulture Department)
  • 3.30-5.00 pm: Field visit with tribal and rural women self-help groups (TVS Srinivasan Services Trust)
  • 4.00-6.00 pm: Debrief on Visual sociology with thermic cameras (Coord. Marine Al Dahdah, Social Sciences Department, IFP); Conducting oral history interviews with women volunteers (Coord. Bharat Sundararajana, Archives, IFP)

4) 9th March 2023, Thursday

Venue: Jamunamarathur, Jawadhu Hills

  • 8.00 am: Collective brainstorming and building shared knowledge (observations, questions and recommendations for future research)
  • 2.00 pm: Departure to Puducherry


  • 8.30-12.00 am: Farmers networking in Puducherry region (Coord. K. Padmavathy, Research Associate, PATAMIL project, IFP)

Venue: Thirukaameeswarar Hightech Agro Farmers Producers Company, Villianur, Puducherry

The main approach of this session is to understand the challenges faced by small and marginal farmers and about the key roles played by Farmers Producers Organisations (FPOs) in ensuring small and marginal farmers livelihood for a prolonged period of time. By the end of the day, we will be able to understand how the FPOs support the farmers to face and overcome agrarian crisis. The session will first be introduced by K.Padmavathy, IFP Research Associate (“Networking of organic farmers in Puducherry region: challenges and future perspectives”). This will be followed by a talk by Mr. Raja, National Agro Foundation, Co-ordinator of Thirukaameeswarar Farmer Producer Company Ltd., Villianur. TFPCL is the only FPO in Puducherry, including more than 500 organic and non-organic farmers in Villianur and Mannadipet.

  • 2.30-5.00 pm: Field discussion on women entrepreneurship and nutrition (Coord. Roja Lakshmi, Research Associate, PATAMIL project, IFP).

Venue: Ariyankuppam, Puducherry

Inauguration by the Hon'ble Speaker of Puducherry Legislative Assembly.

It is proposed to have a focus group discussion with women entrepreneurs from different Self Help Groups (SHGs) who are involved in food enterprises, producing food items based on millets, traditional rice varieties, keerai, ragikuzhu, curd, etc. Fruit and snack vendors in the streets are not able to sell their products in rural villages near Pondicherry due to caste barriers. Women petty entrepreneurs associated in SHGs start tiffin hotels in the streets, colonies and roadside in Ariyankuppam (Pondicherry urban) and Karikalambakkam (Pondicherry rural). Pondicherry being a tourist town, it has a floating population of diverse customers ready to enjoy traditional food varieties such as ragikuzhu, millets snack items, tender coconuts, etc. These rural women entrepreneurs who are selling their traditional food products in the urban set up are explaining the nutrition value of the millets, keerai and country eggs. Though this can be seen as a business strategy, the nutritious value and knowledge of specific traditional food items may be recognized by the consumers. It might also help increase the profit of farmers and the quality of the food proposed to urban customers. The women entrepreneurs will display their healthy food products to strengthen their relations with broader communities.

  • 7:00-9.00 pm: Screening of "Land of women" (directed by Marion Gaborit, 77’).

Venue: Alliance Française, Puducherry

This documentary film tells the story of five women farmers around the world, working the land, which plays a key role in the planet’s food production. A tribute to some of these women, invisible but essential links in the chain who ensure subsistence agriculture every day and everywhere on earth.


  • 9:00-10:30 am: Millet cooking

Venue: Sita Cultural Center, Puducherry

A complete hands-on class to get back to the true Tamil staple which is millet: discover its health benefits, learn how to cook it and make it a part of your diet. We will prepare 2 traditional dishes and discuss other options that can be done to fit our modern lifestyle.

  • 11.00-12.00 pm: Photo exhibition “Millets in Our Daily Diet” (Coord. Rameshkumar Kothandapani, Head of Photo Archives, IFP)

Venue: Amalorpavam Hr. Sec. School, Vanarapet, Puducherry

  • 12.00-1.00 pm: Conclusion of the LFS and prize distribution by the Puducherry Agricultural Minister for the best selected photos.

  • 3.00-5.00 pm: Debate on Youth, food security and food sovereignty (Coord. Augustin Brutus Jaykumar, INDP)

Venue: Alliance Française, Puducherry

We will screen a short video on millet, food habits and culture at the initiative of the youth. It will be followed by a debate at the first stage by a group of 5 youth focusing on how the cultivation of millet could deal with the two challenges of food security and food sovereignty to make it a successful program. Then the youth group will open the discussion with the floor. « Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life» . (FAO). Food sovereignty is a process that adapts to the people and places where it is put in practice. It means solidarity, and building a fairer world from the bottom up. Food Sovereignty is about citizens having direct control over how they feed and nourish themselves, how they use land, water and other resources for them now and for the future generations, and how they interact with other communities and cultures.

  • 7:00-9:00 pm: Tasting of millet recipes cooked by Krishnaa’s Organic Farm, PS Palayam, Puducherry

Venue: Consulate General of France, Puducherry

Contact : Delphine THIVET , Venkatasubramanian. G

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