Kaleidoscope diversity can be found in several indigenous communities across the world. The paddy fields harbor a rich ecosystem for plants and animals to thrive. In this way, the custodians’ cook of Mei-Ramew Café has strengthened the knowledge of children through the aquatic diversity in the paddy fields. An understanding of the aquatic life in Khweng has helped integrate and embrace the importance of an indigenous farming system and valuing the ecosystem.
The paddy fields harbor the rich biodiversity of plants and animals. Throughout their community life, the members are engaged in fishing. They identify, sow, and harvest the fish they find. Every year, before the harvest begins, the community gives a day to fix the upstream check dams so they can be opened and released the water. Everyone in the community is involved in fishing the paddy fishes.
The members who executed this initiative are Plantina Mujai and Dial Muktieh, the Mei-Ramew Café owners in Khweng, who took this opportunity to strengthen the knowledge of children on the aquatic diversity of paddy fields. The children accompanied them in their collection of different species of fish and guild them to identify the aquatic life by their local name.
The community children have learned to identify – dohthli dkhar, dohmukur, dohchabiat, dohshymprong, dohkthungiong, dohkthunglieh, dohpyrthih, dohmashika, dohsnah, dohthlikhasi and tham. This was followed by a cooking demonstration showing children the different methods of preparation of paddy fish.
Gratia E Dkhar, lead associate, agroecology and training at NESFAS , said, “Khweng stands out as an example of how the indigenous community has sustainably used the rich biodiversity in their indigenous food system to build a resilient economy and lifestyle.” She added, “It is a knowledge centre where one can learn about farming from its custodian farmers, experience local cuisines at the Mei Ramew Cafe run by the custodian cooks, and provides a space for eri-silk processing from its skilled weavers and bamboo art from its bamboo artisan.”