The Underrated Nepalese crop: Kodo

Kodo, Eleusine coracana, still remains as the unlinked crop from our daily diet in major households. 

The blame, I personally point towards the bhatculture, a socially developed enigma through the duly developed the hindu-type-thoughts as rice as the only diet we should be having in our daily life. It nurtured the growth and love, knowingly or unknowingly, towards the rice in the years. This is rarely looked at or thought upon by the social researchers of Nepal. 

Rice was never the main diet of Nepal, as we listen to the people in the villages. It was in the Dashain where such a huge importance was given to the rice itself. It was for the tika, the red paste nepalese put on the forehead, and for the special relatives. Our actual culture was not the rice; the case certainly not true for the hills. It was always the kodo ko dhido. This for sure is not the hate for rice that got its popularity but the truth is I believe the bhat culture, the belief the people who eat rice to be the richest or upper class was passionately developed in the society. My parents and my grandparents boastfully share their stories about how their main diet was the dindo everyday. There were no complaints, there were no grumblings but only the empty stomachs to be filled upon and the kodo certainly did.

The time changed. It has to. It is less looked upon, how the maoists specially destroyed the rural way of life in a partial way. Nepalese community, the matwali as called for the people with tibetan origins, have this unshaken still followed culture of rakshi or preparation of the local beverages. It was in the time when the popularly quoted revolution destroyed the ordered culture. It is true, alcohol and beverages had hampered the society and youths, but it was merely the alcohols and the drinks, it was the people who still lacked growth in their developments of their understandings. Stories are unaccounted for and will always be - to be proven unlikely to be blamed for disrupting the way of life. They had destroyed the kodo fields, threatened the people not to prepare such beverages. Such actions, hiddened, crawled today as the confounding cause roots deep inside the villages which led to the lesser cultivation of the kodo.

People now proudly blame the yearly or quarterly statistics of the rice being imported in Nepal. And as an agricultural student, I hear the stories of how Nepal in the early 1970s or before, used to be a rice exporting country, but that is not the case now. The reasons might have been clear; the population has massively increased, the land might have continuously fragmented, the production could not keep up with the growing population and so on. But the other reason is also clear - lesser attention to the other crops such as kodo. Not pointing towards the research aspects, but also to the societal aspects. Who were to be blamed for not making us, our society, aware of the importance of crops such as kodo? Or the society might have already known. It was in the time with societal changes that kodo lost its value. Could not kodo have grown prosperously with rice?


Millet field in Annapurna region, 2005 (commons)


The cultivation of the kodo is too difficult from its cultivation to harvesting stage. Rarely has or had been thought for its proper cultivation methodologies and we rely on the age-old methods. The unpredictable weather, and many pests such as hoppers, stink bugs along with mammals such as mice, monkeys, and birds undesirably make the crop suffer, and the growers are to accept whatever it is. Luckily enough, the crop can still straight even in the hard conditions with lesser rainfall / irrigation or pests. Still, if asked why kodo is being cultivated, it’s undoubtedly for the beverages, kodo ko raksi, popular for certain gatherings, local festivities. It is absolutely not the research centres or the local governments who are preserving such a growing tradition of kodo, it is the locals who even after suffering and with endurance are interested in such crop cultivation.  

The cultivation starts with the month of Jestha (with seed bed preparation) and planting it after a month or less in Shrawan. The harvest is usually in Kartik or Mangsir, depending on the cultivars, the time or the overall maturity of the plants. The crop once dried after harvest properly stays as long as possible infinitely. 

Currently, I hear that this crop, kodo, like others, is being imported from neighbouring countries. With reluctance to grow crops such as kodo, the age-old traditions are likely to perish completely in coming years. We as individuals should have some responsibility towards it.


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Learner, Loves/Learns agronomy, remote sensing, gis, other interests in writing poetry, learning languages, literature, learning the guitar, (+ve person)