[permaculture] Bundled in a sacred basket | Down To Earth | Tribal farmers in Jharkhand use mora made of rice straw to store grains

Lawrence London lfljvenaura at gmail.com
Thu Aug 16 10:11:06 EDT 2012

Bundled in a sacred basket | Down To Earth
Bundled in a sacred basket
Author(s): Jyotika Sood <http://www.downtoearth.org.in/author/9>
Date: Aug 15, 2012

Tribal farmers in Jharkhand use mora made of rice straw to store grains

Photo: Jyotika Sood

At a time when millions of tonnes of foodgrains are rotting across the
country due to storage crisis, tribal farmers of Jharkhand are safely
storing their grains in the traditional mora. Made of ropes of rice straw,
mora is an airtight container that safeguards grains against pests and
rotting. In states like Punjab and Haryana, rice straw is treated as waste
and burnt after harvest.

  How to make a mora

Requirement: rice straw; a bandh (a long rope made of rice straw knitted
like a plait); four ropes of rice straw; wooden bar

1. Four ropes are folded into two and placed on the ground criss-crossing
each other. This results in the formation of eight loops

2. One-fourth of the bandh is placed on the intersection of the ropes and
coiled like a snake. The bandh is continuously pressed to make it flat

3. Once the desired surface is achieved, a thick layer of rice straw is
spread on the bandh. The straw is compacted by pressing with feet

4. The grain is then poured slowly and simultaneously compacted. Pouring
and compacting of grain leads to formation of a heap-like structure. The
straw below the piled grain is lifted up with the help of the shorter
ropes. A bowl shaped structure is formed

5. The process of pouring grain and compacting goes on till the structure
is filled. Grain is compressed with the help of wooden bar

6. The structure is enclosed from all sides by rotating the bandh so
tightly that there is no space between the bandh layers

7. The mouth of mora is covered with straw and a knot is made using the
loop of bandh. Finally, the mora is tightened with the eight loops

Each family in Ranchi’s Aasri village has a mora. Resident Saraswati Devi
says, “I have grown seeing my elders use mora. It is the only way we store
our foodgrains.” Although the residents change grain in the mora every
year, a single container can last three to four years. “Whenever we need
grain to eat or for sowing, we make a small hole in a rope at the top of
the mora, take out the grain and then tighten the rope again,” explains
Devi. “The container protects grain from atmospheric moisture. No matter
what the climate condition is, we never suffer losses,” she adds.

Generally, the men make mora around rice harvest time. Women’s help is
sought at the time of filling the mora with grains.

The farmers list many advantages of the container. Making the mora requires
hardly any money. It is prepared by the family itself. The raw material,
rice straw, is easily available. Ganesh Chander Munda, who is in his early
20s, has seen his grandfather and father making mora. “It is a laborious
job and takes around 14 to 15 days to prepare ropes.

It takes at least three persons and two to three days to fill the grain in
the container,” he says. A mora stores 3,000 kg to 5,000 kg of foodgrain.
Munda adds that one has to be careful while starting the storing process.
The mora preserves grains without the use of pesticides or insecticides.
“One has to keep order of rope arrangement in mind because the ropes
tighten the mora to keep it airtight. Disturbing the order can render the
mora loose, spoiling grains later,” he explains (see ‘How to make a mora’).

Mora is kept in the centre of the house to avoid any contact with moisture.
The farmers consider mora so sacred that they offer prayers at the storage
site and no outsider is allowed to visit. In case there is a visit, prayers
are offered again.
Tags: Features <http://www.downtoearth.org.in/category/section/features>,
Agriculture <http://www.downtoearth.org.in/category/thesaurus/agriculture-6>,
Crop Residues <http://www.downtoearth.org.in/taxonomy/term/7848>, Food
Storage <http://www.downtoearth.org.in/taxonomy/term/5806>,
Rice <http://www.downtoearth.org.in/taxonomy/term/7908>, Traditional
Tribals <http://www.downtoearth.org.in/taxonomy/term/7119>

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