The second edition of the Mei-Ramew Farmers Market was held on Saturday, May 11, 2019 at NESFAS’ premises where two communities from Meghalaya participated.
Two partner communities, namely Pyngkya and Mawhiang, both from East Khasi Hills, took the opportunity to sell wild edibles, vegetables and fruits, which are not commonly found in the local markets.
“I think the whole initiative is a great way to boost farmers and promote chemical-free vegetables. It is also great that NESFAS does not promote plastic bags as they are highly dangerous for the environment,” Ridalin Shullai, a resident of Shillong, said.
Paulomi Sarkar, a research scholar at NEHU from Jharkhand, said, “I like the fact that NESFAS is bringing the indigenous communities to the mainstream. they are getting an opportunity to sell their products and be aware on what’s happening in the actual market.” She added, “Now, the farmers will also have the knowledge of how valuable their products are.”
Shanita Nongsiej, a farmer from Mawhiang, said, “Since it’s my first time selling my produce in Shillong, I really appreciate this opportunity. Most customers were curious about some of the wild edibles that were brought and they also asked for recipes to cook them.” “I just learned that ‘Jalei ‘ is being sold for the first time at the Farmers Market and people were inquiring about it, especially on the health benefits and the various recipes.”
The ESAL Meghalaya group also participated in the market where they set up a food stall focused on Garo dishes only. The menu included Do’O Kap’A Lettuce wrap, chicken cabbage roll dumpling, Jakep (a sweet dish) and wild fruit sohphie mix.
Shullai said, “The Garo stall really stood out for me because the food was really refreshing as it was oil free and just right for today’s weather.”
NESFAS kitchen, on the other hand, also set up a stall where they sold a Khasi Platter, which consisted of red rice, scrambled egg and jarain, beef mixed with jalei and jatira, green salad (jamyrdoh, tomato, cucumber, black sesame seed and carrot), bay berry pickle, yellow dal and a dash of mint chutney. To beat the heat, the members also sold bay berry juice.
Nestar Kharmawphlang, a custodian farmer and a teacher from Laitsohpliah community, stole the limelight throughout the day every time he came forward and recited couplets, locally known as phawar.
The market is an initiative that was started in April 2017 by NESFAS. Many more markets have been organised in the past in collaboration with other like-minded partner organizations and institutions. This activity aims to promote and generate awareness on Indigenous Food Systems and its contribution towards food sovereignty and nutrition.