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‘Biodiversity festival’ reaffirms quest for food security

By EMN Updated: Nov 25, 2014 12:59 am

Dimapur, November 24

A festival on biodiversity was organized by North East Network with New Creation Ministry in Sekrezu in Phek district on November 22. Around 200 farmers from different farming communities of Sekrezu area and Chizami in Nagaland, and West Khasi Hills of Meghalaya were brought to this event.
Secretary-General of Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights, Niengulo Krome was the guest of honor. Hewoto Sema, District Agriculture Officer of Phek and Dr Carl Rangad of NESFAS in Meghalaya facilitated the technical sessions.
In the introduction to the festival, also commemorating the UN FAO’s International Year of Family Farming, Seno Tsuhah of NEN stated that the event is an initiative ‘to celebrate and acknowledge the ecological agricultural practice, the rich agro biodiversity in our farmlands, traditional food and knowledge systems attached to the land and its people’.
Krome, while thanking the farmers for ‘keeping our Naga identity and culture alive’, he acknowledged that ‘farmers are the owners of the ground, our land, which is our identity’. Recalling the recently held International seminar on cultural diversity, food systems and livelihood in Peru (Nov 2014) by the UN FAO, he reiterated that ‘food sovereignty, is the right of the people to define their own policies and strategies for the production, distribution and consumption of food, respecting their own culture and their own natural resources in rural areas and management systems. Food sovereignty is seen as a precondition to food security’.
Two Naga farmers, Savopalu Chizo and Kechangulie Ringa, shared their personal experiences on millet farming and their efforts to pass on the knowledge to future generations.
Also, DAO of Phek Hewoto Sema pointed out that ‘agriculture sector is highly vulnerable to climate change’ and thus stressed on the need to adopt comprehensive measures in addressing the challenge of extreme weather and climate thereby saving human lives, animals, and other livelihoods. He stated that the state’s Agriculture department has projected a plan of paddy production as ‘Vision 2025’ which is targeted to achieve food for all by 2025.
Dr. Rangad highlighted the importance of millets as ‘climate smart crops and solutions to food security’. He emphasized on the role of the indigenous communities in sustaining agro-diversity and how that can lead to a sustainable future. Drawing on examples and experiences from Meghalaya, he stated the need of learning and sharing of knowledge among indigenous farming communities as they share a bond beyond borders. He also stressed on the need to integrate ways in making the younger generation take interest in traditional farming practices. In his final note, he extended an open invitation to all, to the Indigenous Terra Madre festival, which is to be held at Meghalaya in October 2015.
The organizers called upon the participants to endorse millet-based farming which is ecological agriculture and to transfer the rich traditional knowledge systems to the coming generations through different platforms including the youth, church, educational institutions. They cautioned the villagers on destructive development policies and encouraged them to make informed choices on any new development, strengthen control over the commons and continue to keep alive their seed keeping heritage.

By EMN Updated: Nov 25, 2014 12:59:49 am