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| Last Updated:01/06/2017

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Biodiversity Festival in Chizami

 

Women farmers from Nagaland and Telangana exchanging seeds from each of their regions at the Biodiversity Festival held at the NEN Resource Centre in Chizami.

From seeds to biodiversity to communities - the Biodiversity Festival hosted every year by the North East Network in Chizami village, Phek district, Nagaland, has come a long way. What began at the village level, of women exchanging seeds and the knowledge therein, is now a solidarity of neighbourhood hills and the sub-continent at large.

This year, women from various districts of Nagaland, and States of Manipur, Meghalaya and Telangana exchanged seeds - millets, maize, fruits, vegetables - from their respective fields at the Biodiversity Festival held on March 9, 2016 at the NEN Resource Centre at Chizami village as symbolic to sharing life.

Seeds contain the information to the food that secures life and livelihood. The wisdom to use them in the appropriate way has led humankind to reach where we are today. This year’s edition of the Festival was celebrated on the theme ‘Bonding Communities, Celebrating Diversity’ and saw women put up an exhibition on the biodiversity - crops, plants, wildlife, medicines, fibres, dyes - from their respective regions.

Promoting Agro Biodiversity

The agro biodiversity, of particularly the North East of the sub-continent, provides for a range of security by way of food, clothing, housing, medicines and fodder. Our culture revolves around our agriculture cycles. World over, it is the small and marginalised farmers who are meeting our need for food. Small farmers also take care of the needs of nature’s pollinators, the birds, bees and butterflies, which makes for a healthy ecosystem. And world over, small farmers are mostly women. Often, home gardens are their “private labs” where seeds are tried and tested for results before being implanted on the fields. Taking lessons from them, thus, every polity, particularly villages, should keep a focus on food security instead of purely market production/profit while planning. How should councils and the government look at development in society? It is very tempting to go all out for cash crops but only few can afford them. However, keeping food security as the core will meet the needs of the poorest of the poor.

By promoting sustainable and diverse practices, a culture’s language remains alive. We are rapidly losing our language, and cultural roots, because we are engaging less with the biodiversity around us.

The government should be aware that women are at the centre of sustainable agriculture practices. Women think of the family’s requirements first and then earning out of surplus, as opposed to men who are easily attracted to cash crops. We need sovereignty on our fields before economic or political sovereignty. Women must be made a part of meetings and committees where land use policies are decided and made.

As the Government of Nagaland still looks the other way on this critical issue, women farmers are forming solidarities strengthening food systems through seed banks, sharing knowledge and food from the fields with each other, exhibiting on a common platform and even singing their cultures alive - all seen germinating at the Biodiversity Festival at Chizami.

 

Source: MExN