The women farmers giggled as they were given an award by way of honour on March 8, 2014. The semi-formal ceremony was underway at the North East Network’s resource centre in Chizami, Phek district of Nagaland. The women farmers were being recognized for practicing ecological agriculture (biodiverse farming) and their significant contribution to conservation of genetic biodiversity, ensuring food and nutritional securities in their homes and communities, on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2014, and the International year of Family Farming. The women who came up with the idea to honour the farmers thought they would weave leaf hats that would protect the farmers’ heads from the harsh sun while working in the fields. This along with grass coats—all made by local craftspersons—would double up as a rain and sun shield, and make excellent honorary gestures to be given to the women farmers by the chief guest for the day.
leaf hats ended up, inadvertently, looking like graduation hats made of leaf. The grass coats tied up at the neck and flowing on the back made the whole ceremony look like a graduation ceremony for the farmers. No one had anticipated this, and everyone went into giggles as the women farmers posed for what looked like the graduation ceremony of a Farmland University. Thereafter, everyone at the event wanted a “graduation picture” taken individually and in groups.
(The story appeared in The Morung Express. To read visit: http://www.morungexpress.com/editorial/112366.html)