Biodiversity Festivals promote traditional knowledge and practices
Dimapur, March 11 (EMN): Cultural performances, seed exhibition and seed sharing, display of uncultivated crops, bamboo crafts and biodiversity markets marked the ‘Biodiversity Festival’ organised by the North East Network (NEN) at Phor village in Phek district and Pathso Nokeng in Noklak district on March 4 and 10 respectively.
The Biodiversity Festival at Pathso Nokeng was one of the three festivals, organised by NEN in March 2021 on the theme “Strengthening indigenous knowledge and practices for a sustainable future”. The Biodiversity Festival at Phor village saw 136 participants from Phor, New Phor, Shatüzha, Wuzu, Yisi, Küzatü, and Hutsü village, while at Pathso Nokeng village around 250 participants from seven villages namely Pathso Nokeng, Pathso village, Eakhao, Yokao, Tsuwao, Lengnyu village and Panso town participated, an update from NEN stated.
Speaking at Pathso Nokeng, the guest speaker and Noklak superintendent of police (SP), Dr. Pritpal Kaur Patra, encouraged the farming community to conserve their biodiversity, indigenous seeds, and continue the cultural practices which are sustainable and also adopt scientific knowledge.
“Farming is the best profession in the world, everything may stop working in the world but one cannot stop farming. If there are no farmers where would one get food?”stated Patra as she encouraged the participants to advance their farming practices while adopting sustainable practices.
Patra further emphasised on the importance of protecting the lands from chemical pesticides and to protect indigenous local seeds, stating that hybrid seeds cause loss of nutrients in the soil as well as loss of seeds. She encouraged the local community to make Noklak a leading district in farming, marketing, value addition, handicrafts, handloom etc. through hard-work and collaborative effort with various departments.
Delivering a keynote address, NEN member Seno Tsuhah said, “We are the custodians of traditional knowledge and biodiversity.” Stating that indigenous traditional knowledge is one of the strongest fibres that bonds nature and human beings together, she therefore stated that it is important to strengthen the indigenous knowledge and practices.
Highlighting the significance of traditional knowledge in biodiversity protection, she reminded that the depletion of biodiversity has led to the erosion of traditional knowledge systems and vice versa. She called on the community to “defend one’s biodiversity and knowledge systems to ensure a sustainable future, and to build a strong and self-sufficient community by enhancing local production, local consumption and local distribution”.
After the event, the guest speaker along with other invitees and the local community visited the community seed bank.
At Phor village, NEN state coordinator Wekoweu Tsuhah highlighted that ‘indigenous communities demonstrated their resilience and leadership in responding to global crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic because of their rich natural resources, biodiversity, traditional knowledge, practices and value systems.’ She has termed a wakeup call to recognise and protect them in order to secure the future.
She also emphasised on the need to assert autonomy over food by strengthening traditional seed systems, local food production and consumption; attain sustainable development by protecting common resources, inclusion and participation of women in decision making processes, redistribute care and domestic work, and strengthen the solidarity economy.
NEN field coordinator, Pongsa Lamthew, who was the key person in organising the event at Pathso Nokeng village, stated that the Biodiversity Festival was the first of its kind in Pathso Nokeng area. He stated that it has generated wide awareness and greater interest on the importance of biodiversity conservation, value of traditional seeds and local food, and most importantly built unity and solidarity amongst the villages of the area. According to him, farmers and local artisans who brought their products to sell at the biodiversity market have generated an amount of INR 70-80000.
The Biodiversity Festival is an annual event of NEN which has been held at Chizami village in Phek district since 2010. The festival has, over the years, brought together diverse stakeholders comprising of farming communities from within and outside Nagaland, representatives of CBOs, CSOs, NGOs, media, educational institutions, and government agencies to celebrate biodiversity, to dialogue on issues and concerns related to biodiversity, sustainability, communities’ knowledge and practices, food and farming systems, and to facilitate sharing and exchange of knowledge and experiences.
It further informed that the 12th NEN Biodiversity Festival would conclude on March 13 at Tsüpfüme village.