191 pages, colour & b/w illustrations, b/w maps
Humans have been living in close proximity to plants from the beginning and that has deeply influenced their social, economic, religious and scientific ideas, indicated by the ethno-archaeological evidence. During the early phases, humans used wild tubers, leaves, fruits and grains as their food, but after keen observation learnt how plants germinate in different seasons and climatic conditions. Thus, they could find useful ones for domestication and cultivation. In human history, introduction of agriculture played a crucial role, for several inventions were made along with the beginning of agriculture.
India is a country with varied geoclimatic conditions, having different potentials for crop cultivation. This book reviews how domestication process and agriculture started in India, looking at rice, wheat, millets, pulses, etc. While some of these are indigenous, others were introduced from other parts of the world.
The book is structured in 12 chapters, each being independent, but collectively presenting the history of human-plant interactions in India, primarily based on archaeobotanical evidence. Despite being a technical subject, it has been dealt with in a lucid and simple manner. Thus, in the first five chapters, the process of the beginning of agriculture has been reviewed in a global context. The subsequent chapters are devoted to the beginning of agriculture in different regions of the Indian subcontinent, looking at the the Indus valley, North India, East and Northeast India, Central India and the Deccan, Ganga Valley and the Vindhya and Peninsular South. The book concludes with a recapitulation of the main topics.
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Dr Vasudha Pant is an agricultural post-graduate from the G. B. Pant University of Agriculture and Technology. She pursued her PhD at the CIMAP (Central Institute of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants) and received a doctorate from the Lucknow University.
Dr Pant is presently based at Almora, contributing in the development of the region, using local plant resources. She is associated with several organisations in the hill region, including Lok Vigyan Kendra, and has worked for the conservation of local traditional knowledge system and its relevance in the present socioeconomic scenario. She has been involved in the intensive research on this topic, organising various events on it.
Among her other research-oriented activities, Dr Pant has been contributing towards creating awareness among small farmers to conserve their biocultural knowledge and their crop varieties. To that end, she is associated with the Lok Chetna Manch, Ranikhet, which has launched a project called "SIFOR" (Smallholder Innovation for Resilience). Besides, she is also associated with the Green Hills Trust, which works for the protection of the environment in the sub-Himalayan region of Uttarakhand. She also manages a commercial organisation – Chitai Naturals – which works for creating sustainable livelihood opportunities with local resources.