Identification of functional properties of non-timber forest produce and locally available food resources in promoting food security among Irula tribes of South India

  • Kirthika P
  • Janci Rani P REmail author
Original Article



This paper aims to understand the dietary diversity in the selected tribal population, identify and document the available non-timber forest products (NTFPs) and locally available food resources (LAFRs) in the selected tribal area, review the functional and nutritional properties of the food resources, and promote them as functional foods in achieving food and nutrition security.

Subjects and methods

The selected Irula tribes were located at the base of the Western Ghats region of Southern India. Background information was collected using a pre-tested questionnaire and a direct interview schedule. A dietary survey was carried out using the 24-h recall method and a food frequency questionnaire for individuals in the 18–65 year age group (n = 400) in consultation with senior women in the families. A scientific review process was adopted to identify the functional properties and nutritional values of the NTFPs and LAFRs.


The review process of the NTFPs and LAFRs revealed the presence of active compounds, including enzymes, pigments, and polyphenols, and anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, cardioprotective, immune-boosting, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, gastroprotective, anti-anaemia, and anti-diarrheal functional properties. For the past few decades, a simultaneous reduction in tribal dietary diversity has been observed, with acute shortcomings in macro and micronutrients in the most vulnerable age groups.


Efforts to document and promote the best utilization of NTFPs and LAFRs with functional food and nutritional value will help to achieve food and nutrition security in the selected population. Promotion of NTFPs and LAFRs through education and dietary interventions would be a possible solution.


Non-timber forest products Food security Functional foods Locally available food resources Irula Tribe 



This study was funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India and a grant awarded to the Food Nutrition and Health Education Centre at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, India. We hereby acknowledge the support we received.

Compliance with ethical standards

All procedures performed in the study involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed oral consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. No identifying information about participants is included in this article.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social Work, Amrita School of EngineeringAmrita Vishwa VidyapeethamCoimbatoreIndia
  2. 2.Food Nutrition and Health Education Centre, Amrita School of EngineeringAmrita Vishwa VidyapeethamCoimbatoreIndia

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