The National Exhibition organized as part of the Annam Festival
was a celebration of ethnic food and agricultural diversity. The
Exhibition had about 200 stalls set up by 150 governmental,
non-governmental organizations and individuals. There were also
stalls offering products of Ayurveda, Homeopathy, Unani and
Department of Agriculture and related organizations like Coconut
Development Board, National Bank for Agriculture and Rural
Development (NABARD), Kerala Agricultural University, Vegetable
and Fruits Promotion Council and Horticorp, showcased the rich
agricultural biodiversity of the state and the diverse range of
value added products from agricultural producers.
Health-conscious visitors trooped into the stalls put up by
National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). The free check up of the
body mass index arranged by NRHM and free consultation on
nutrition benefited a large number of visitors. The stall on
Naturopathy by the Bharateeya Educational Trust too had large
number of visitors and they too offered free health check up.
Tribal groups from Waynad exhibited ethnic food products.
Activists from the Plachimada Action Council had put up a stall
offering native herbal preparation- 'sarsaparilla' syrup in a
symbolic protest against Colas. The tribal hut made of reed
leaves made by tribal people from Ponmudi, was decked up with
tribal products and handicrafts.
Rural products such as areca-frond utensils, tribal medicines,
terracotta products, pottery and handicrafts were on display.
Farm-fresh plantains, yams and other vegetables were also
available for sale. The stalls put up by the Government of West
Bengal on horticulture and tourism potential of the state was
another important feature. Kudumbasree, the poverty eradication
outfit of Kerala, had put up stalls from various units that
manufacture food and handicrafts.
Another attraction was the 108 dishes prepared from jackfruit.
Seed varieties that are facing extinction were also exhibited at
the festival. Tuber crops exhibited by the Central Tuber Crops
Research Institute (CTCRI) and the MS Swaminathan Research
Foundation gave visitors an idea of diverse tuber varieties in
the state. About 50 traditional varieties of paddy including the
medicinal Navara, scented Gandhakasala, Chennellu, Ponnari,
Vellari, Medapuncha, Arikkurai, and Varinellu were displayed.
Horticulture and garden nurseries selling saplings and seeds
were another attraction.
The village market organised as part of Annam exhibition was a
rare show of the great diversity we had in vegetables and
fruits. Kerala had a culture of homestead gardens where a large
number of vegetables, coconut, fruits like a variety of jack,
mango and plantains, many kinds of yams and other tuber crops
grew which has now eroded to a great extent. Vegetables like
carrot, cauliflower, cabbage, beet root , tomato etc which were
not locally grown now dominates the markets. Two organisations -
Neyyattinkara Integrated Development Society and Agri Friends
who played a major role in organising the village market
succeeded in bringing diversity of vegetables that were very
popular in the past but now faded from the memories of city
dwellers. Most of the items made available in the market were
produced organically by small scale farmers in the villages and
from homestead gardens.
A food festival focusing on the diversity in food and
traditional knowledge was organised as part of Annam Exhibition.
The region specific diversity in cookery practices in the state,
many of which are now disappearing from normal use, were on the
show in the food festival. An entire array of stalls selling
ready-to-eat ethnic foods at the Food Festival attracted large
number of visitors. The items included traditional snacks like
ragi appam, scented terali appam, edana appam, ada,
kozhukkatta.etc. The stalls were put up by various Self Help
Groups, Kudumbasree, Ethnic Food Hotels, NGOs and assorted
Various preparations based on local health food traditions like
Adalodakam koottu, a mixture made from Malabar Nut leaves and
other herbs which helps to purify blood and get rid of lung
related health problems like coughing, phlegm etc. were also on
display. Brahmi Kurukk, from the leaves of the Indian pennywort,
which was available had many takers and this is considered as an
energizer, good for memory and mind development. Malathangi
kurukk, from Cissampelos pareira leaves etc., which helps
restore taste and helps in relieving weakness and chest pain.
Poovarash kurukk (mainly made from Thespesia populnea leaves ) a
general tonic attracted attention. These were considered an
education option by many. Many were seen interacting with the
stall managers regarding the recipe and cooking methods. There
were a variety of preparations from tapioca. This in combination
with a variety of fish curry preparations had many takers.