Kong Slibon Nongrum of Laitsohpliah, East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, was a renowned indigenous knowledge holder recognised by NESFAS over the last 5 years of their work for ITM 2015 . She passed away at the age of 83 on the 21st January 2017.
In her village, she was regarded as ‘The Lady with the Magical Touch’ because of her significant contributions to maintaining food quality, agricultural production, and diversity in Laitsohpliah village.
It is her calloused hands that weave a story of how over the years she has been able to alleviate her family and herself above poverty and then carve out a heritage of agrobiodiversity in the plateaus of Laitsohpliah which is hit by water scarcity problems.
Kong Slibon was able to tackle and emerge from the problems of trying to conserve the resources for food and agriculture. She credited traditional knowledge that has been long established and passed down from her mother, for her to ensure a valuable landscape that featured a rich plant variety.
Her work was a beacon of hope for traditional livelihoods and for the promotion of indigenous plant varieties that help manage the risks to biocultural diversity and sustainable management of agrosystems. Her lessons also helped realise the importance of managing the risks to food and agriculture that result from natural and human- induced disasters, climate change impacts, soaring food prices and other emerging issues.
During the visit of a renowned Agroecologist Dr Francisco J Rosado May from Mexico last January 2016, he was captivated with how well she had managed her home garden and saw that she was able to maintain and find solutions to maintain the moisture of the earth even during the dry winter months of Meghalaya.
It is with these contributions that she left a legacy within her community by simply spending her time in the fields. She has been able to pass down her legacy to the next generation within her family. Bakmenlang Nongrum one of the 16 grandchildren of Kong Slibon, grew up under her fostering care and considered her vegetable garden as his adventure playground. She had shared with him the family secrets on the importance of traditional farming and seed keeping. How to be able to cultivate on a farm land that is faced with severe water scarcity.
The members of her village and various other surrounding villages near Laitsohpliah had noticed that the seeds she plants will always sprout to grow healthy and productive; they would approach her for her assistance. They had been able to approach her and bring the seeds they wanted to plant before they are to be sown in their farms.
Ever an imposing figure in her village, Laitsohpliah, her daunting smile was responsible for guiding and integrating the traditional Khasi Dance performed at the International Terra Madre 2015 in Meghalaya. She was actively involved with NESFAS activities. She has encouraged and shared her keenness of traditional farming with her family and had contributed to her community for the future of their well-being.