On the 8th March 2017, North East Network marked Women’s Day by celebrating Biodiversity Festival with the theme ‘Celebrating Biological diversity, Bonding Earth Communities’ at Chizami Village, Nagaland. NESFAS, having a close network with NEN, attended the festival and Bah Phrang Roy, Chairman NESFAS graced the event as the Guest of Honour. The highlight of the programme was the seeds exchanging ceremony participated by different 11 communities representing Meghalaya, Sumi village, Chizami village, Musulumi village, Kalimpong (Lepcha people), Sangtam community, Chakesang community, Khiamniungan community, Pochury women group and many others. The programme also enhanced the objective of exchanging ideas among farmers and exchanging seeds with the hope of having a further bond.
Kong Diat Suting of Moosakhia Village, West Jaintia Hills District and Kong Phrianda Diengdoh of Laitsohpliah village, East Khasi Hills District represented our region and are the farmers who preserve traditional knowledge and seed keeping practices in their village. Bah Phrang Roy shared in his speech, “Women are the guardians and custodians of the cultural diversities of an indigenous community. Women have an important role as nurturers, the nurturer of the children and also the future generation”.
Kong Phrianda mentioned that many biodiversity programmes were conducted by NESFAS over the years through which they were able to have a farmer’s group who have their own gifts and ideas. She expressed, “I attended the Biodiversity Festival 2017 to gain experience, learn and share my thoughts and ideas with other communities”. With the help received from NESFAS and the Department of Meghalaya, the farmers are able to have a sense of ownership in preserving traditional farming and seed banking for the sustainability of traditional farming system. Kong Phrianda shared that they were able to get rid of fertilizers by using organic compost which resulted cleanliness and ODF in their villages.
Seno Tsuhah, Team leader NEN Nagaland stated that “Farmers are compelled to adapt to the changing demands of individualistic society in recent times. But women within farming communities are continuing to ensure biodiversity in seeds, foods, crops, agricultural and allied practices and also through their manual and acquired skills. Such efforts of women are leading to food security, social stability and peace within homes and even outside”
Custodian farmers Kong Diat and Kong Phrianda are intending take forward the initiative of organising a mini festival of this sort to be conducted in their own community. They also shared that the seeds received from this Biodiversity festival will be planted in the school garden of their respective village.
The festival aimed at bringing together diverse stakeholders- women, men, government, community based organizations and resilient farmers to strengthen solidarity and celebrate the rich diversity of cultures, food, farming, knowledge systems with the hope to influence policy support for agro-biodiversity conservation. The festival also aimed at enabling communities to collectively re-examine, reflect and build strategies to embrace a vision of sustainability by valuing womens’ efforts in balancing bio-diverse practices for sustainability.
At the event, women representing the different communities shared solidarity messages, folk song and folk melody performed by pochury women’s group and mesulumi women farmers heightened the event and a traditional pot luck ceremony concluded the celebration.