On the occasion of World Bee Day 2021 (May 20th), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) organized a virtual event to commemorate the role of Bees as an important pollinator, under the theme “Bee Engaged: Build back better for bees”.

Mr. Phrang Roy, Coordinator TIP and Founding Chairperson NESFAS, was a Panelist at the event and for the first time an indigenous storyline was shared at a global event attended by the Director General of FAO and four Ministers.

The event served as a platform that brought together global voices to address the threats posed by the COVID-19 pandemic on food security, environmental, and pollinator protection. 

Indigenous beekeepers of Mawpynthymmai (East Khasi Hills)

“Ka Jingiaid Lynti Jong Ki Nong Ri Ngap” the stories of the local custodians was applauded at the webinar. Mr. Roy highlighted the indigenous perspectives through his presentation “Indigenous peoples as game changers” which shared grassroots journeys, which maintain the natural biodiversity balance on a global platform. “As indigenous peoples, we have a sacred relationship with nature and with all creatures, great and small”. 

Pollination is known to be the highest contributor to the agricultural system, and bees play a vital role to ensure food security and biodiversity. They are also important beings that have helped indigenous peoples to be the custodians of 80% of the biodiversity of the world.  

However, it is important to acknowledge the fact that Bees face a threat; the number of bee colonies in the forests is declining due to the commercial cultivation of broom grass and there is a lack of a beekeeper-friendly organic certification system. To add, five schools in rural communities have also adopted Pollinator’s study as a subject in their curriculum, to empower and uphold a knowledge exchange for the generations in line.

NESFAS as an indigenous organization works closely with traditional beekeepers in Meghalaya and explore numerous foundations to scale beekeeping as a practice, culture and a sustainable local livelihood opportunity.  

As highlighted in the presentation, it is important to strengthen indigenous pollinators’ networks to contribute and empower grassroots initiatives to maintain biodiversity and well-being. Acknowledging that Indigenous Food Systems are beneficial for Pollinators is a step forward, as well as protecting local governance systems of indigenous communities so that sacred forests become important Pollinators corridors and zones. 



Alethea Lyngdoh
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