Written by Rundolf Mawlieh & Bajanai Diengdoh
The first Anniversary of the National Coalition for Natural Farming (NCNF) event was held on July 23, 2021 through an online event. The event addressed the emerging agroecological practices that have spread across India, as a form of an agricultural redesign. The programme saw an interesting mix of organizations brought forward by NCNF to work on how all these organisations make the most of this collective energy to scale up natural farming and more than 500 people attended this auspicious occasion.
On this occasion of the First Anniversary Celebration, the coalition has launched an animated film, ‘The Flower of Collaboration’, which highlights the efforts of some of the champion farmers who have brought remarkable on-farm transitions and farmer efforts being done by grassroots organisations across the country.
The first half of the event showcased the works done at the National level by various grassroots organisations working with farmers at the ground level and NESFAS as a partner organisation received the opportunity to feature the story of traditional farming in the areas of Meghalaya, through a video that featured a custodian farmer from Khweng, Kong Radian Syiem.
After the first half of the event, the attendees were then directed to the regional sessions, which consisted of six breakout rooms- East, West, North, North East, Centre and South- as per their respective States and Territories. In the North-East room, along with NESFAS, there were different organisations such as the East Foundation, North East Network (NEN), Diya Foundation, Social Service Center, SESTA and Society for Urban and Rural Empowerment (SURE), and many more who are working towards achieving sustainable agricultural practices. NEN showcased their work on the aspect of women empowerment on how they play an active role in sustainable agriculture by upholding seed banks and seed exchange practices. NESFAS also presented a video featuring Kong Merrysha Nongrum, Sr. Associate, Youth and Women Empowerment, hailing from Umsawwar community where she highlighted the Indigenous Food System (IFS), community well being, being, livelihood, and also stressed on the importance of youth empowerment.
Badarishisha Nongkynrih, Lead Associate, Food and Public Health Services, NESFAS, exhibited a cooking demonstration by showcasing a local dish ‘Wild edibles stew with dry fish’.
Gratia Dkhar, Lead Associate, Agroecology and Training, NESFAS, presented the experience of NESFAS concerning Natural Farming and highlighted key initiatives for sustainable production, consumption and livelihood.
Pius Ranee, Executive Director, NESFAS, shared “A regular engagement with all partners in the North East is a must for the coalition to implement successful strategies. We also need to identify some programs and policies to be introduced in our respective States on how to promote natural farming and bring out key issues at the policy making level and influence from that perspective”.
Before the closing of the event, there were summaries of participation from different communities which led to the discussions held in the break-out rooms, eventually leading to dialogues in the main room where participants from all over the nation were present.
Dr. Mihir Shah, Former member of the erstwhile Planning Commission, remarked “What we imagine was a dream some years ago and now it’s a reality on the ground. The Natural Farming Coalition is a collective endeavor and the energy is derived from the members who are actively involved in working at the grassroots level with the farmers. There is an urgent need to scale the work of this coalition. Our job is to figure out how we can put in momentum to scale this endeavor and produce proof of concept that natural farming is perhaps one of the solutions to meet the urgency of the hour”.
Overall, the NCNF aims to build a platform to stabilize learning, practice and policymaking related to agro-ecology-based farming in its multiple variants. Thus, it will also work towards promoting various farming practices based on sustainable agroecological principles, knowledge sharing and learning across the country.