On the 4th of this month, the Society of Urban and Rural Empowerment (SURE) in collaboration with North East Slow Food and Agro Biodiversity Society (NESFAS) organized a Agro Biodiversity Walks at Mulum village under Laskien Block, West Jaiñtia Hills. The program is part of the ‘No one shall be left behind initiative’ which is supported by REC and implemented in some villages in Meghalaya and Nagaland.
The main purpose of conducting the ABD walk is to help the young generation of the village learn and appreciate the rich bio diversity of the area and the importance of protecting Mother Nature and its richness. Member of youth club, the Participatory Guarantee System (PGS) group and Self Help Groups (SHGs) in the village took part in the ABD walks. A total number of 30 people took part in the walk to identify edibles which started from the kitchen garden and ended at the nearby forest.
Two knowledge holders of the community, Reviancy Suchiang 56 years of age, also member of the Agro Biodiversity Learning Circle (ALC) and PGS group and Marki Lamare 25 years of age guided these walk and introduce the group to the various local plant, wild edibles and medicinal herbs.
In the garden, Reviancy Suchiang shared with the group her knowledge about the local plants which the community has been cultivating and used for many generations. Along the way and in the forest she identified wild edibles, fruits and shared with the group the different ways of how these wild edibles were used. Marki Lamare a young herbal medicine practitioner in the village shared with the group his knowledge about medicinal herbs available in the vicinity of the village. This ADB walk helped in identifying and documenting 25 local plants, 9 wild edibles and 5 herbs.
Before the start of the programme, Daka Bareh Field Coordinator SURE, welcomed the entire group and highlighted the importance of local food for good health and also enlightened the group about Agro Biodiversity. Agro Biodiversity refers to the variety of animals, plants and micro organisms that are used directly and indirectly for food and agriculture. When we disturb the natural order of the environment by eliminating species through eradication, destruction of habitat, removal of food sources, the effects of this interruption to the natural order may be detrimental- impacting not only a single species, but an entire eco system, she said.
Hamsniawpher Suchiang Community Facilitator in her speech said that the goal of conducting the ABD walk is to help the group know how to appreciate the rich biodiversity in the Nature and to instill in them the need to preserve it. Suchiang also observed that the youths of today are detached from nature; they have lost touch with the nature and she encouraged the youths present in the gathering to reconnect with nature.
After the walk a cooking demonstration was held in the forest where the group cooked a healthy sumptuous meal using ingredients that were collected from the walk.
The group particularly the youths enthusiastically participated in the program and when given opportunity they raised questions which were clarified by the knowledge holders. Risa Synnah 18 years of age expressed her gratitude to the organisation for organising the program. She said that after the walk she now realizes that it is high time for the youth to come forward and protect nature and its richness.
Dawanroi Suchiang 17 years of age also shared the same concern that the youth now a days don’t respect Mother Nature anymore. She cited an example of young people cutting the branches of a tree instead of just plucking the fruits they need.
Phrang Suchiang 70 years old man and a custodian farmer said that he loathe people who destroy the nature. He suggested the need of imposing fine by the village dorbar against people who destroy nature.
Somja Phawa, Field Coordinator, SURE also spoke on the meeting and offer a vote of thanks. It may also be mentioned that the entire program was held in open space which is in the garden and the forest as well as following the SOP.