Bioresources for Food and Nutrition Security: The Case of Wild Edibles of Western Ghats

  • M. K. Ratheesh Narayanan
  • Nadesapanicker Anil KumarEmail author
  • Parameswaran Prajeesh


Wild edibles (foods) are plant and animal resources outside the agricultural areas that are harvested for the purpose of human consumption. This chapter provides the diversity and trends in the use and management of wild edible species with reference to different sociocultural groups from the Wayanad District, in Kerala, part of the Western Ghats. Three hundred fifty-three species of seven major groups of wild foods that include leafy greens, tubers and roots, fruits and seeds, mushrooms, honey, crabs and fishes are discussed. The places where the wild edibles proliferate, the communities that come in search of these edibles, the colloquial terms that are commonly used to describe them and the gender roles that come into play during harvesting and processing of the wild foods have also been traced out. Tribal and rural families of the region continue to collect and conserve a wide range of plants to meet their diverse food needs, and women are more skilful in managing the surrounding landscape and are the chief knowledge holders and conservationists. It is also noted that the wild edibles have a critical role to play in dealing with the issue of undernutrition, and hence dynamic conservation of agrobiodiversity needs to be placed high in the national development agenda for leveraging nutrition in agriculture and alleviating poverty and malnutrition.


Wild edibles Wayanad Western Ghats Gender Agrobiodiversity 



The authors are very grateful to all those men, women and children of different sociocultural groups of Wayanad District who generously contributed their knowledge and materials used to produce this account. We also acknowledge Ms. M. P. Swapna, our former colleague at MSSRF, for her unconditional assistance without which this account would not have materialised. Authors gratefully acknowledge Ms. Mina Swaminathan for her wholehearted encouragement and guidance and Drs. Sumi Krishna, Hemal Kanvinde and Meera Devi for their kind supports. The inspiration given by Prof. M. S. Swaminathan is deeply acknowledged. The financial support provided by Uttara Devi Resource Centre for Gender and Development (MSSRF) is also acknowledged. The executive directors and other colleagues, especially of the biodiversity programme of MSSRF, are gratefully acknowledged for helping in bringing out this research study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. K. Ratheesh Narayanan
    • 1
  • Nadesapanicker Anil Kumar
    • 2
    Email author
  • Parameswaran Prajeesh
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of BotanyPayyanur CollegePayyanurIndia
  2. 2.Community Agro Biodiversity CentreM. S. Swaminathan Research FoundationWayanadIndia

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