North East Network (NEN) Shillong organised a two-day workshop on 13th and 14th June 2017 on developing a roadmap for action taken towards “Strengthening Convergences for Empowering Women Farmers in Meghalaya” at SIRD (State Institute of Rural Development), Nongsder.
The workshop aimed at highlighting barriers faced in the State in terms of agriculture and livelihood, with a special focus on gender barriers of women farmers. It also laid emphasis in identifying gaps and challenges of the different stakeholders; both Government and non-Government organisations and draw collective action towards supporting women farmers in Meghalaya.
On behalf of NESFAS, Miss Merrysha Nongrum, Associate, NESFAS and Kong Byllaimon Swer, custodian farmer from Laitsohpliah village, participated in the panel discussion.
Organisations such as Grassroot, BIDS, Synjuk jong ka Hima Mawphlang, SURE, NERCORMP, Bethany Society and Government Departments converged in one platform to discuss issues, challenges, and recommendations for ensuring Rights and Entitlement of women farmers in Meghalaya.
Each organisation presented their experiences in terms of working with women farmers and the challenges faced by women. From the presentation delivered by the different speakers at the workshop, challenges such as lack of capital, water scarcity, market access, rented land/scarcity of land, pest control, lack of compensation, certification of organic farming, lack of documentation, Government recognition and poor infrastructure, are some of the main challenges that were highlighted in the forum. Besides these issues, there was also a strong focus on climate change issues such as drought and flood that lead to soil degradation.
Kong Byllaimon Swer delivered a presentation and shared the story of her village, Laitsohpliah, her role as a custodian farmer, and the strong partnership between NESFAS and her village. “The major issue in our village is unhealthy soil and water scarcity, which really becomes a struggle for our farmers”, shared Kong Byllaimon. She then highlighted the need of returning something back to mother earth and not only demand from her. As a result, she shared the composting activity done by the PGS groups in her village under the guidance of NESFAS. She lastly advised her fellow farmers to practice multi-cropping in their farms because according to her traditional knowledge, multi- cropping would protect natural calamities.
The second day of the workshop was mainly about “Women Farmers Rights Forum” called MAKAAM (Mahila Kisan Adhikaar Manch) which is a forum of Women Farmers’ Rights. The outcome of the discussion on the challenges led to the formation of a Women Farmers’ rights Forum (MAKAAM) in Meghalaya, under the leadership of NEN. This forum will coordinate to work on issues faced by women farmers in the state.
REPORTED BY: MERRYSHA NONGRUM, ASSOCIATE, NESFAS