World Soil Day 2017 celebration with the indigenous communities
NESFAS along with Laitsohpliah, Laitthemlangsah and Laitumïong communities observed the “World Soil Day 2017’’ at Laitsohpliah village, Meghalaya on the 5th December 2017. The programme was centred around FAO’s “Global Soil Partnership’s” theme: “Caring for the Planet starts from the Ground”. The programme was chaired by Mr. Nestar Kharmawphlang, Headmaster of Laitsohpliah LP UP School. He said, “Our villages face harsh environmental challenges such as heavy rain, fog and storm which makes it difficult for us to practice organic farming”. Hence the programme addressed their concerns and discussed a way forward.
Resource person Dr. A K Nongkynrih, HOD Department of Sociology NEHU highlighted the fact that the villages around Sohra region experience heavy rainfall, therefore there is a high amount of soil erosion. Hence it is important for the communities to preserve the soil. For instance, Dr. Nongkynrih suggested that the forest cover should be maintained at the hill tops around their village as this helps the rainwater to percolate into the soil as well as increasing the soil fertility.
“In everything we do we depend on soil, be it our daily activities or cultivation or even for building purposes” said Mrs Byllaimon Swer, custodian farmer from Laitsohpliah. NESFAS initiated the composting campaign in the different partner communities since 2016. It has brought many communities forward to take the initiative in their own agricultural lands and Mrs Byllaimon is one such farmer who is actively composting and applying it in her fields and producing organic crops.
A role play was also presented by the Social Work students of Women’s College Shillong around the theme which portrayed a close connection between a households’ farming activities and soil which was greatly appreciated by the communities who attended the programme.
Dr. Carl Rangad, Vice Chairman (Operations) NESFAS, said “Soil is not a renewable resource”, hence the importance of celebrating World Soil Day initiated by UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. However, this should not be a one-day event but should be a perspective that we practice daily. By celebrating this occasion, the three communities are also part of a Global movement that commemorates the importance of soils and soil health.
The chairman, Mr. Nestar Kharmawphlang, during the meeting also broke out in to a “Phawar” or Couplet which encouraged the people to see the importance of soils and the need to respect Mother Earth.