Mei Ram ew – A celebration of indigenous food ways
Local Mei Ram ew Festivals
NESFAS’ innovative approach to agrobiodiversity protection and revitalization is through the vehicle of local food. Food, being the basic necessity of every person, is a unique entry point to introduce and discuss the dangers of eroding biodiversity and brings to fore the need to strengthen existing practices and revitalize those that are being forgotten. The process of dialoguing, showcasing, and exchanging local food production, consumption and preparation practices highlights and mainstreams the cultural knowledge and strengths of Indigenous Peoples.
NESFAS initiated a series of local Mei Ram ew (Mother Earth) Food Festivals in the villages that celebrated and highlighted unique crops that are disappearing and cuisines that are almost being forgotten. This was done with the support of MRDS, NERCORMP, and St. Edmunds College.
The events brought together communities from 155villages that are now part of the NESFAS network. This strengthened existing contacts between the communities, highlighted the value of local foods and reinforced the need for community-based action. A greater awareness has been generated in the communities on the importance of local foods for food security and the well-being of local communities.
The participating groups and visitors are now committed to reviving and revitalizing their food culture, and thus their agrobiodiversity. They have also initiated their own small events and are taking ownership in the preparations of the Indigenous TerraMadre (ITM) to be held in 2015. Custodian farmers who are unique in their ways of promoting, protecting and maintaining a large amount of biodiversity have also been identified during these festivals and are recognized and involved as important partners for the preparations towards ITM 2015.