Organisers and Funders
International Mei-Ramew 2015 (IMR 2015) – Mother Earth in local language – is the preferred name of the peoples of Meghalaya for the second edition of Indigenous Terra Madre, an international gathering on indigenous food communities. It is a joint venture of the Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty (Indigenous Partnership), Rome, Italy; Slow Food International, Bra, Italy; and the North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS), Shillong, India.
The event was supported by several US Foundations, namely The Christensen Fund; Tamalpais Foundation; Swift Foundation; CS Fund; and the AgroEcology Fund. International funders include Bread for the World, Germany and the International Fund for Agricultural development (IFAD), Rome. The Government of Meghalaya suppoorted ITM 2015 by funding the necessary local preparatory and event management costs. Forty one indigenous communities in Meghalaya co-hosted ITM 2015
Venue and Geographic Information
This global event was held in Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, from 3rd to 7th November 2015. Shillong is situated at the centre of a plateau surrounded by hills, three of which are revered by the Khasi people, the majority indigenous group of the state. The other main indigenous peoples of Meghalaya are the Jaintias and Garos, and all three groups follow matriarchal traditions, albeit strongly impacted by modern influences.
Shillong, located approximately 1800 m (6000 ft) above sea level, has a cool climate and is only 65 km from the village of Mawsynram, reported to be the wettest spot on earth. The weather in early November is generally cool but pleasant with ample sunshine and daytime temperatures averaging 19°C and nighttime lows around 7-10°C. The houses and meeting halls are generally minimally heated and therefore warm clothes are required for evening.
The General Event Schedule
The first three days of ITM 2015 was held at the Campus of the North Eastern hill University (NEhU), Shillong, one of India’s federally established universities and it will include plenary and thematic break out sessions, cultural performances and food tastings. The fourth day will feature field trips to eight host villages, where participants had the opportunity to spend time and exchange ideas with local food communities in their respective landscapes.
Context & Rationale
As the world searches for sustainable ways of growing food that avoid and ideally mitigate ecological crisis, scientists and policymakers are, today, turning a thoughtful gaze toward indigenous peoples and their long-standing practices that help to maintain ecological balance. ITM 2015 gathered indigenous food communities working with the Indigenous Partnership, Slow Food International, UN Agencies and other global supporters to showcase their traditional knowledge, evolving skills and sustainable practices that safeguard natural resources and contribute to a resilient food system that promotes a more humane future for a diverse world. ITM 2015 strived to be a platform for these food communities to interact and engage with scientists and policymakers as they reflect on the theme, The Future We Want: Indigenous Perspectives and Actions.
Objectives of IMR 2015
- The first objective of ITM 2015 was for all Indigenous Terra Madre communities and allies of the Indigenous Partnership to celebrate the wonderful cultural and biological diversity of indigenous communities as expressed in their songs, dance, dress, folklores and food systems that have evolved through generations of close interaction with nature.
- The second objective was to gather, review and reflect on evolving food and agroecological issues of indigenous peoples in order to build their respective capacities to promote and uphold an environmental standard in which all people can enjoy food that is good for them, good for those who grow it and good for the planet.
- The third objective of ITM 2015 was to showcase to the world at large the cultural and biological treasures of Meghalaya and North East India. It also aimed to draw attention to the many innovations of local communities across the world and the success stories of promoting good, clean and fair food through government, civil society and development initiatives. It highlighted the Slow Fashion of the North East movement, which aims to glamorise traditional textiles and weaving practices in North East India that are a crucial part of the sustainable, environmental and ethical movements of the world. Slow Fashion of the North East promotes choosing quality over quantity, and artisanal and local products over mass-produced items.
4. The fourth objective was that traditionally marginalised voices, such as youth, women
knowledge holders, the physically challenged, and indigenous farmers, pastoralists,
hunter-gatherers, remote dwellers and fisher folk, will actively participate in the
deliberations of the gathering.
The Focus of ITM 2015
Celebration of Food: The diversity of indigenous food was celebrated through shared meals, food tastings, workshops, demonstrations, pop-up restaurants and fine dining experiences.
Inclusive Discussion: Plenary sessions led by well known speakers covered topics such as the future of local indigenous food, understanding indigenous wellbeing, the UN and the future of indigenous local knowledge systems, and the nutritional wellbeing of matriarchal communities. There also were parallel thematic sessions where indigenous communities, particularly women and youth, were encouraged to engage and exchange practical ideas on topics discussed at the plenary sessions.
Cultural performances: ITM 2015 provided a platform for different indigenous communities and well known indigenous cultural artists to showcase their culture, songs, dance and dress.
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