On August 4, 2020, the Society of Urban and Rural Empowerment (SURE) in collaboration with North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society (NESFAS) organised a Biodiversity Walks at Mulum village under Laskein Block, West Jaintia Hills. The programme is part of the ‘No one shall be left behind initiative’ project, which is supported by REC and implemented in 130 communities in Meghalaya and Nagaland. The teams ensured all standard operating procedures were followed during the programme.
The purpose of conducting the ABD walk is to help the youths of the community learn and appreciate the rich biodiversity of the area and the importance of protecting Mother Nature and its richness.
Members of the community youth club, Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) group and self-help groups (SHGs) of the community also took part in the ABD walk. A total number of 30 people took part in the walk to identify edibles, which started from the kitchen gardens of the community members and concluded at the nearby forest.
Two knowledge holders of the community, Reviancy Suchiang (56) who is also a member of the Agrobiodiversity Learning Circle (ALC) and PGS group, and Marki Lamare (25) facilitated the walk and introduced the group to various local plants, wild edibles and medicinal herbs. Suchiang shared with the group her expertise about the local plants, which the community has been cultivating and used for many generations. When they were on their way to the forest, she identified wild edibles and fruits, and shared with the group the different ways of how these wild edibles can be used.
Lamare, a young herbal medicine practitioner in the village, shared with the group his knowledge about medicinal herbs available in the vicinity of the village. This ADB walk helped identify and documented 25 local plants, nine wild edibles and five herbs.
Hamsniawpher Suchiang, community facilitator, said, “The goal of conducting the ABD walk is to help the group know how to appreciate the rich biodiversity in the nature and to instill in them the need to preserve it.” She also stated that the youths of today are detached from nature, she encouraged the youths present in the gathering to reconnect with the nature.
After the walk, a cooking demonstration was held in the forest where the group cooked a healthy sumptuous meal using ingredients that were collected from the walk.
The group, particularly the youths, enthusiastically participated in the programme and when given opportunity, they raised questions, which were clarified by the knowledge holders.
Eighteen-year-old, Risa Synnah, expressed her gratitude to the organisation for organising the programme. She said after the walk, she realized that it is high time for the youth to come forward and protect the nature and its richness that lives on earth can sustain.
Dawanroi Suchiang (17) also shared the same concern that youths nowadays don’t respect Mother Nature anymore. She cited an example of young people cutting the branches of trees instead of just plucking the fruits they need.
Seventy-year-old, Phrang Suchiang, who is a custodian farmer, said he loathes people who destroy the nature. He suggested the need of imposing fine by the village Dorbar on people who destroy nature.
Somja Phawa, Field Coordinator, SURE, also spoke on the meeting and offered a vote of thanks.
It may also be mentioned that the entire programme was held in open space which is in the garden and the forest as well as following the SOP.