IDUKKIEenth, an organic food item popularised by early settlers in Idukki, is making a comeback. Demand is surging, with people coming from faraway to buy it. Harvesting season is Sept-Nov. Local vendors sell it for ₹120-130/kg. Tribespeople use it in daily diet. Cycas plants are preserved by Forest Dept. & are ancient relatives of flowering plants. Seeds form after 40+ yrs. Planting Cycas is an act of love for future generations.
Eenth (Cycas circinalis), an organic food item popularised by the early settlers in Idukki, is gradually making a comeback to the food menu of Keralites.
According to local traders, the demand for the item has been on a surge over the past couple of years with people, even from faraway locations, coming down to the local markets in the hill district in search of the food item. The annual harvesting season for the crop is from September to November.
Joseph Mathew, a local vendor at Labbakkada near Kattappana, said he was buying dried eenth at ₹120-130 per kg. “The item holds a huge demand but is scarcely available. The eenth powder is typically used for making puttu,” Mr. Joseph said.
When the first wave of farmers settled in Idukki in the 1920s, eenth was one of the major foods for settlers. According to natives, a large number of eenth plants are still growing in and around Ayyappancoil near Kattappana — one of the earliest settlements in the region in Idukki.
For instance, Kunjumol Mathirappally, a 80-year-old member of a settler family at Ayyappancoil currently preserves five eenth trees in her property.
V.R. Anandan, a tribal community member, said that the tribespeople are aware of the importance of the plant. “Cycas-based food items are a part of most tribal families’ daily diet,” he said.
Idukki Wildlife Warden G. Jayachandran said that many Cycas plants have been growing inside the Idukki wildlife sanctuary. “The Forest department carefully preserved the Cycas plants and mainly the tribal people in the region are harvesting it,” said Mr. Jayachandran.