A STUDY ON PERSISTENT ETHNOMEDICAL PRACTICES OF TRIBALS IN VIZIANAGARAM DISTRICT OF ANDHRA PRADESH
Acharya N.G. Ranga Agricultural University
In the tribal society the use of plants as medicines is well known since early days. They use different plant species in treatment of various diseases using the stem, roots, leaves, bark and other parts of the plants. Ethnomedicine is operationally defined as a wide range of health care systems/structures, practices, beliefs and therapeutic techniques that arise from indigenous cultural development. The Persistent Ethnomedical Practice is operationally defined as the traditional medical practice which is continuing to exist or occur over prolonged period of not less than 20 years. According to 2011 census the state of Andhra Pradesh stands seventh position in tribal population in India and it consists of 33 tribal groups. Vizianagaram district is a tribal centric area with 2,344,474 tribal population covering eight primitive tribal groups who are spread in eight remote tribal mandals of the district. The flora and fauna composition of the forests of the Vizianagaram region is quite diverse. Especially the diversity in the plant composition and distribution is more in Kurupam and Gumma Laxmi Puram mandals. Several medicinal plants which are widely used by the tribals exist here. So far very few ethnomedical studies are available on health care of human, animal and plant in the district and almost all tribal centric villagers follow ethnomedicine in healing the common ailments and health problems. So in this context the study was conducted to explore the ethnomedical practices among tribals in Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh with the following objectives: 1. To study the socio economic and other characteristics of tribal respondents 2. To study the persistent ethnomedical practices from the selected tribal respondents. xiv 3. To obtain the rationality of the persistent ethnomedical practices of tribals with the help of experts. 4. To document the valid ethnomedical practices as perceived by the experts. 5. To elicit the reasons for continuing the persistent ethnomedical practices. Exploratory research design was adopted for the study. Vizianagaram district of Andhra Pradesh was purposively selected. Out of eight tribal mandals of the district two tribal dense mandals namely Gumma Laxmi Puram and Kurupam were selected purposively. Three villages from each mandal were selected randomly that make a sample of six villages for the study.120 tribal respondents with minimum age of 40 years were selected purposively. Majority of respondent farmers were between 50-60 years of age were illiterates (40.00%), belonged to nuclear families (70.00%), with small family size (50.00%) and medium level of socio-economic status (42.50%), without having any official position in socio- political organization (50.84%).With regard to farm size, in shifting cultivation majority (48.34%) of the tribal respondents were marginal farmers while in normal cultivation nearly half (48.33%), of the tribal respondents were small farmers. In terms of farm experience majority of the respondents in shifting cultivation & normal cultivation respondents had medium level of farm experience. It was apparent from the results that one fourth (25.00%) of the tribal respondents were engaged only in agriculture, more than half (62.50%) of the tribal respondents possessed land (62.50%), television (77.88%), mobiles (66.67%) and automobiles (58.33%) as an asset. Data pertaining to source of information for ethno medical practices revealed that family was ranked I for getting information, while in the context of contributing factors for continuing ethnomedical practices results revealed that majority of the tribal respondents had high (70.00 %) mass media exposure, medium religious belief and medium (56.00 %) level of fatalism. Most (42.50%) of the tribal respondents had medium level of extension contact. In terms of input acquisition pattern of ethnomedical practices, the results indicated that majority of the tribal respondents preferred to collect, prepare and use ethnomedicine on their own with the help of their elders in the family, followed with local healers, neighbours, shandies (local weekly markets) and GCC. A little over half (58.33%) of the tribal respondents had medium innovativeness. Information pertaining to the other reasons for continuing ethnomedical practices, the results revealed that trust on the practice ranked I with the acceptance of 93.33% of the respondents followed by availability of local healers, affordability of ethnomedicine, successful results, remoteness and availability of plant resources. A total of 120 ethnomedical practices of the tribals were collected in three specified disciplines namely, human, animal and plant health management. Among the 120 ethnomedical practices, 60 practices were on human health, 40 practices were on animal health and 20 practices were on plant health. Five experts were identified in each specified discipline (Ayush doctors Agriculture officers, Veterinary doctors) for testing the rationality of the collected ethnomedical practices. Based on the scores of the experts 65 persistent ethnomedical practices were identified and presented with scientific name of the plant along with its family name, common name, part used and mode of utilization.